US Atty. Hickton: Efforts to Increase Police-Community Trust Working

Oct 30, 2012

In an effort to combat the decades-old problem of mistrust between some communities and law enforcement, a Pittsburgh community group is hoping to implement some changes. U.S. Attorney David Hickton convened the Community-Police Relations Group about a year and a half ago. In that time, they’ve achieved four major accomplishments to that end.

“We have, with great cooperation from the police and city leadership, enhanced police training,” said Hickton, “two, we have done a study of effective community police collaboration models within our own community.”

The third accomplishment is "deconfliction work" (a military and engineering term that refers to the process of avoiding mutual interference,) which is an area that will continue to be expanded upon. The fourth is doing a better job in engaging the faith community in the issue.

The group also created Project Unity.

“The goals are to improve the quality of life for residents and their children, develop a partnership between community and law enforcement and strengthen the foundation of the community, the beta model for Project Unity is being implemented at Allegheny Dwellings,” said Hickton of the effort in the Housing Authority of Pittsburgh development on Federal Street.

There are hopes to expand the project to other public housing units belonging to the Pittsburgh Housing Authority as well. The group will keep meeting and has four things planned for the next six months.

“First, I’ve identified a crisis team that will be called, when asked by me, to enhance understanding and to address directly any community crisis that threatens community/police trust,” said Hickton. 

The group will also conduct a broad community survey, hold community meetings in Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, McKees Rocks, and the Mon Valley, and hold one large meeting being dubbed the Community Conclave.

One of the group’s leaders, Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen said not much can be done without cooperation between citizens and law enforcement. That was echoed by another group leader, Pitt Law Professor David Harris, “that cuts crime, that is a way to make the streets safer because only when police and citizens are working together do we do everything we can to make a better city, to make a safer city.”