By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis has been selected as one of six cities to host a pilot initiative designed to improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

Attorney General Eric Holder says the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice will assess the police-community relationship in each of the pilot cities.

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The program will help develop a plan to enhance procedural justice, reduce bias and support reconciliation in communities where trust is an issue.

Building trust is something Janee Harteau, the chief of Minneapolis police, is big on, and now her department will have help to guide them along this journey of creating a better relationship between community and police.

Harteau says this initiative is a chance to build on what she believes the department is already doing right.

“We’ve had tremendous impact on violent crime over the years by addressing low level offenses, by having folks call 911 and report suspicious activity, but there’s also been some unintended consequences that we need to take a look at and how we can continue to provide excellent police public service while building relationships,” Harteau said.

The Department of Justice will provide technical assistance and some guidance.

“To look at procedural justice…implicit bias and racial reconciliation, three key areas that every department in this country needs to look at,” Harteau said.

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She believes with community input, relationships and conditions can improve.

Sondra Samuels, the president and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, believes this trust and justice initiative is what’s needed.

“This means that we are turning a corner,” Samuels said.

She says it takes everyone — officers, the city and its residents — to work together to make the streets safe for all.

“Given what’s happening nationally and some of the things that have happened locally, we can’t put our heads in the sand around some of the racial injustice, but we have more good cops than not,” Samuels said.

The first six months of the initiative will include a visit by the Justice Department to Minneapolis to develop detailed site- specific project planning.

Researchers will evaluate how the city has addressed implicit bias, violence prevention and procedural justice.

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Harteau hopes Minneapolis and her department will be on the forefront of creating a national model for other departments to follow.

Reg Chapman