Minneapolis was identified Thursday as one of six cities chosen for a federal pilot program aimed at reducing racial bias and improving relationships between law enforcement and communities.

The Department of Justice selected Minneapolis out of a pool of about 100 cities for its National Initiative for Building Community Trust & Justice. As part of the project, researchers will study data and conduct interviews in pilot communities.

Attorney General Eric Holder named the participating cities Thursday, six months after announcing the initiative in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting that sparked protests nationwide. The Justice Department last week issued a scathing report on Ferguson's criminal justice system, calling out a slew of discriminatory policing practices that led to the resignation of the city's police chief.

Joining Minneapolis in the initiative are: Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Ind.; Stockton, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Pittsburgh.

Minneapolis leaders, who volunteered the city for the program, applauded the selection in a written statement.

"We have built a strong reputation as a department willing to put forward the work needed to enhance our community relationships. We are pleased to take part in this thorough and comprehensive program, which can only help us continue our mission of improving public safety and building public trust," said Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau. She said the department also hopes to learn about new ways to engage residents.

The federal government is teaming up with national law enforcement experts from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yale Law School, the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA, and the Urban Institute for the program.

During its first six months, researchers will visit Minneapolis to "evaluate how the city has addressed procedural justice, racial reconciliation, implicit bias, violence prevention, and goals around subpopulations such as high-risk youth, victims of crime, victims of domestic violence, and the LGBTQI community," according to the news release.

"Through this initiative, Minneapolis will be helping to create a model for the rest of the country to follow," Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement.

"We were selected because of the engaged and active community we have here, as we share the goal of creating safer communities for everyone."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Liz Sawyer • 673-4648