PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As Attorney General Eric Holder announced Pittsburgh as one of six pilot cities to build trust and reconciliation between law enforcement and the communities they serve, the Wednesday night attack on police officers in Ferguson sombered the mood.
“Cops have the right to come home at night,” said Holder, “and that’s exactly right. These are people who protect us, who keep us safe, and they have the right, have the right to come home at night.”
The cop-shootings highlighted why programs to combat distrust and ease tension between police officers and minority residents are important, says Holder.
“This is a nationwide program that is designed to enhance procedural justice, to reduce bias, and to support reconciliation,” the attorney general added.
David Kennedy is the director of the national program. Political editor Jon Delano reached him by telephone in California and asked, why Pittsburgh?
“We looked for communities where on the law enforcement side, on the community side, and in terms of municipal government, we would have good partners who are eager and extremely likely to do hard work and succeed,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy says Pittsburgh was chosen, not because of worse problems than others, but because it wants to get things right.
“In particular, we will be working to infuse what is called procedural justice into the workings of the police and other arms so that residents feel that they’re being treated more fairly and more equitably with more respect,” he said.
“With the younger population, I think they feel it’s us against them,” says Richard Garland, a community activist and instructor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Garland thinks it may work if the right people are at the table.
“I think this is a step in the right direction to try to rebuild trust from the community as well,” he said.