Broadening its push to improve police relations with minorities, the Justice Department has enlisted a team of criminal justice researchers to study racial bias in law enforcement in five American cities and recommend strategies to address the problem nationally, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.
The police shooting last month of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri underscored the need for the long-planned initiative, Holder said in an interview with The Associated Press.
He said the three-year project could be a “silver lining” if it helps ease racial tensions and “pockets of distrust that show up between law enforcement and the communities that they serve.”
"What I saw in Ferguson confirmed for me that the need for such an effort was pretty clear," Holder said.
The five cities have not yet been selected, but the researchers involved in the project say they’re bringing a holistic approach that involves training police officers on issues of racial bias, data analysis and interviews with community members. They expect to review police behavior in the cities with the hope of building community trust and creating an evidence-based model that could be applied more broadly.