A Statement by Abington Township Police Chief Bill Kelly
The highest honor of the Abington Township Police Department is to “Respect, Obey and Defend the Constitution of the United States of America” and the constitutional rights of all citizens regardless of “actual or perceived race, color, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, handicap, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression” (as described in Abington Township Ordinance 2029).
The Abington Police Department takes this honor and this responsibility seriously and is committed to enforcing all laws intended to preserve those rights and to protect all citizens, as well as apprehend and prosecute all who violate those laws.
At the same time, the Department always maintains the defendant’s rights to due process and the assumption of being “innocent until proven guilty by a court of law,” regardless of the allegations made against the defendant.
The September 11, 2014 incident in Philadelphia, and the injuries received, are serious and tragic. We extend our sympathy to all whose lives have been so seriously affected. As law enforcement officers we believe, and sincerely hope, that the criminal justice system will ensure that “justice is served” in this case.
Because one of the suspects in this incident is the daughter of a retired Abington Police Lieutenant some vicious comments have inferred that the Abington Police Department and its members do not take seriously our responsibilities to protect all citizens and to enforce all laws. I categorically reject that inference. In fact, the Abington Township Police Department has been a leader in Human Rights activities. Those activities have resulted in the Department receiving honors from the Montgomery County Human Relations Advisory Council and the Willow Grove NAACP.
In addition, the commitment to equality, tolerance, and diversity by Abington Township and Abington Township Police Department may be best demonstrated by Abington’s leadership in the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program. Led by the Abington Police Department who spearheaded the Township’s involvement, Abington Township became one of the first “No Place for Hate” communities in Pennsylvania in 2002, pledging “…Abington will maintain a policy of zero tolerance for hate crimes. We will do our best to interrupt prejudice and stop those who, because of hate, would hurt, harass, or violate the civil rights of anyone.”
Among our many achievements, Abington became the first community in Pennsylvania to have all of its schools designated as “No Place for Hate” schools, including Penn State – Abington Campus, the first “No Place for Hate” college campus. The work of the “No Place for Hate” Committee in Abington was so successful that Abington Township was chosen to be the first recipient of the ADL’s prestigious “Courageous Conversations Award” given annually to “a community that has demonstrated creativity and courage in engaging in dialogue about diversity.”
In that spirit, I respectfully ask all parties to join us in our commitment to not only secure “justice for all” but also to reject all forms of intolerance and prejudice to ensure that all communities will someday become “No Place for Hate.”