Australian police chief apologizes to indigenous people

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian state police chief has made an historic apology to indigenous people who are overrepresented in prisons and vowed to improve race relations.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said in a speech on Thursday police had played an important in role in past wrongs against indigenous people in the state over decades, including enforcing government policies of removing mixed-race children from Aboriginal families until the 1970s.

Indigenous Australians make up only 3 percent of the national population, but 25 percent of Australia's prison population.

Dawson says the history of conflict between the indigenous population and police included removing tribes from their land, violence, racism and incarceration.

Aboriginal advocates welcomed the apology and hoped it would pave the way for improved relationships between the police and indigenous people.