St. Anthony asks for help improving trust between police and communities of color

Their request comes three months after Philando Castile was shot and killed.

The City of St. Anthony is looking to improve trust between its police department and the community.

Officials recently requested to be included in theU.S. Department of Justice's Collaborative Reform Initiative – a program that aims to help cities implement ways to improve trust within the community, a news release on the city's website says.

"The city applied to enroll in the program to support its ongoing work to improve relations between its department, the cities it serves, and communities of color as a result of the recent tragic events," the release said.

This comes three months after St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in nearby Falcon Heights, sparking protests nationwide and continued calls for police reform. (The Ramsey County Attorney's Office is considering whether a grand jury or his office should consider charges against Yanez.)

"City leaders and the police department have already started a collaborative process to identify ways to address issues of bias, race, equity, cultural inclusion," the release said. "St. Anthony is committed to not only discussing these important yet complex issues, but to also identifying specific changes that need to be made in a way that is accountable and transparent."

If the city is accepted, the agency will bring "proactive, non-adversarial, and cost-effective technical assistance" to the city. Assistance includes analyzing data and records, research and analysis, direct observations, as well as providing other prospectives from cities that have dealt with similar issues.

It's not clear when the DOJ will make a decision on St. Anthony's application.

More on the Collaborative Reform Initiative

The Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) works to advance community policing nationwide with several programs that are geared toward providing technical assistance to police departments that are looking to get better.

One of those programs is what the City of St. Anthony applied for. The Collaborative Reform Initiative has worked with several other cities that have had to deal with community trust issues in the wake of officer-involved shootings.

Among them: the St. Louis County Police Department in Missouri; the Baltimore Police Department; and the Milwaukee Police Department.

Since 1995, COPS has invested $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, including some in Minnesota.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice said the COPS Critical Response Technical Assistance program would look into how the City of Minneapolis responded to protests following the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark in November 2015.

National Community Policing Week

This week marks National Community Policing Week, which is part of the Obama Administration's efforts to build stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

As part of this week, the Department of Justice will lead roughly 400 events around the country that are designed to foster dialogue, promote cooperation, and help citizens and law enforcement get to know each other in an effort to make communities safer.

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