National researchers presented to the Minneapolis City Council on Wednesday more details about a three-year, multi-million-dollar, federal program to study and reduce racially biased policing within the city.
During a City Council committee of the whole meeting, organizers discussed the National Initiative for Building Community Trust & Justice, a project launched at police departments in six cities including Minneapolis to try to build trust between communities and law enforcement especially in the wake of several high-profile, fatal shootings of black men and other incidents across the country.
The Department of Justice 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.
"We know that disparities exist in policing everywhere," said Deputy Chief Medaria Arradondo. "We want to make sure that once again that we can identify those ... But we need an extra set of eyes and ears and the National Initiative folks and their team will do that for us."
Attorney General Eric Holder named the participating cities chosen out of a pool of about 100 in March, six months after announcing the initiative in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting that sparked protests nationwide. The other participating cities are Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Ind.; Stockton, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Pittsburgh.
The nearly $5 million project, which is spread across the six cities, is built around three key concepts: procedural justice, the idea that how individuals regard the justice system is connected to the perceived fairness of the process rather than its ultimate outcome, implicit bias, unconscious attitudes about people that can affect behavior, and racial reconciliation, a process in which law enforcement and and the community can acknowledge past mistakes and move beyond them.
Mayor Betsy Hodges met with program representatives Wednesday.
“This week the City of Minneapolis has undertaken another critical step in our work to achieve One Minneapolis, a city where your success and your safety is not determined by your class, race, or zip code,” said Hodges, in a statement.
During the pilot project, researchers will survey the department as well as the community and provide specialized training to police. As data is analyzed, recommendations can be offered and possibly implemented and evaluated on an ongoing basis, said Phillip Goff, co-founder and president of the Center for Policing Equity.
During the meeting, City Council members were favorable of the program though several had questions about the project's timeline, specifics about what its results would be, and concerns about inclusion of community members.