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The Justice Department announced Thursday morning the creation of a new center that ties in with President Barack Obama‘s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. The National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice will serve as a bridge between law enforcement officials and communities of color in hopes to eliminate racial bias and other damaging factors.

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The announcement took place in New York at the Community Oriented Police Services ( COPS) Office Director’s Forum, with associate Attorney General Tony West taking the podium to detail the center’s goals and plans. The gathering included several political figures and community leaders, such as Rev. Al Shaprton and West’s fellow Justice Department colleagues.

West, who is African American, opened up his talk discussing the trials and honor that goes along with being a law enforcement official. He made mention of the growing diversity of the police force and explained how the COPS program has fortified relationships in communities of colors with those paid to protect and serve them.

The meat of the discussion, however, was announcing the creation of the center. The Justice Department is granting close to $5 million to help build the center’s programs.

From West’s speech:

 It’s in that spirit that I’m pleased to announce today a major new Department of Justice initiative aimed at enhancing public safety by strengthening relationships between law enforcement and communities. Under a solicitation released this morning, we are committing up to $4.75 million to establish the National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice.

This initiative – which will be jointly supported by our Office of Justice Programs, COPS Office, Civil Rights Division, Office on Violence Against Women, and Community Relations Service – will expand our base of knowledge about what works to improve procedural fairness, reduce bias, and promote racial reconciliation.  It will help communities address the challenges arising from suspicion, distrust and lack of confidence in our law enforcement agencies.

In a brief chat NewsOne had with COPS officials, this new initiative should be seen as more of a grant and not the erecting of an actual facility. Instead, the center will be a consortium of sorts between COPS, the Justice Department and other law enforcement agencies to foster the connection between good policing and the needs of the communities they serve.

To learn more about National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice, visit this link.

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