Panel to Discuss Policing and Civil Rights

Sep 23, 2021

Three experts will address the history of the Civil Rights Act and today’s challenges.

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A panel of law enforcement veterans will discuss “The Civil Rights Act and the Police: From Mississippi Burning to Minneapolis” from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at California University of Pennsylvania.

The event is open to the public and will be held in Duda Hall Room 103. Masks are required indoors at Cal U. It also will be available via Zoom at

Dr. John Cencich, a criminal justice professor at Cal U who teaches Problems in Policing for undergraduates and 21st Century Policing and Constitutional Policing for doctoral students, will moderate the panel.

Panelists are Regina Scott, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department; Dr. Frank Mancini, retired superintendent and 30-year veteran of the Boston Police Department; and Samuel Santiago, an 18-year police veteran.

Scott and Santiago are in Cal U’s Doctor of Criminal Justice program, and Mancini is a graduate of the program and the recipient of the Dr. Jay Albanese Award of Academic Excellence.

They will consider the Civil Rights Act, comprehensive legislation passed in 1964 intended to end discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin; the “Mississippi Burning” case involving the 1964 arrest of three Civil Rights workers, who were later found dead near Philadelphia, Miss.; and events in Minneapolis, Minn., including the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a White police officer.

The presentation will also highlight Viola Liuzzo, a civil rights activist born in California, Pa., who participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery March and was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama in 1965. Her mother was an alumna of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Normal School, now California University of Pennsylvania.

“The criminal justice programs at Cal U teach students how to be more effective as law enforcement professionals,” Cencich said. “Our panelists present sophisticated leadership skills that are necessary in 21st century policing.”