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Pittsburgh's Pilot Reconciliation Project Aimed At Saving Citizen & Police Lives

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Pittsburgh was one of six cities for a pilot project to build trust and reconciliation between the police department and the diverse communities it serves.

The next day, with the mayor and police chief nearby, U.S. Attorney David Hickton outlined Pittsburgh's role in this community trust and justice project.

"This initiative will provide training to law enforcement, as well as community members, on bias reduction, procedural fairness, racial reconciliation, and violence prevention," said Hickton on Friday afternoon.

Pittsburgh was chosen not because its problems were worse than others but because all parties here demonstrate a willingness to work together.

"It's happening in church basements. It's happening in rec centers. It's happening all throughout this city," added Mayor Bill Peduto.

Criminal justice professionals will provide strategies, research, and training.

"When I had the opportunity to go through some of this kind of training, understanding implicit bias, it changed my life," Police Chief Cameron McLay said. "It changed my human perspective."

"This is a gift we are giving to the men and women of the Police Bureau. It's going to make us better," added the chief.

And the effort is not just focused on police.

"The community can be extraordinarily disrespectful," noted Beth Pittinger, executive director of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, "and they do exploit high profile incidents that occur to convey a message of negativity and anti-police."

"That is not in anyone's interest, and from the Citizen Police Review Board's perspective it is as intolerable as police misconduct," said Pittinger.

This reconciliation, says Hickton, is important to all.

"We have a common enemy. It's random violence in our communities. The community is concerned about it because they believe it is disproportionately affecting them, and particularly young African American males," said Hickton.

"But we are in the middle of what we saw again this week is one of the worst epidemics of violence against law enforcement in our history," added the U.S. Attorney.

So getting this right saves the lives of everyone.

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