Leon Ford and Evan Feinberg: Healing Communities in Pittsburgh | Rare Techy


In the nation’s major cities, violent crime is stubbornly higher than it was before the pandemic. Pittsburgh is no exception, with a 25% increase in homicide rates.

If we want more peaceful communities, we must develop better relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Bridging the gaps between law enforcement and our communities requires our citizens, businesses, organizations and government officials to work together to create bottom-up solutions.

Unfortunately, as we look around our cities today, we see polarization and division. But we also see local leaders coming together to solve problems — and fellow Americans hungry for a better way. They are great drivers of change.

We aim to increase the appetite for change by bringing tools, investment and resources to these local communities, amplifying the efforts of those who are already making an effort.

In June, one of us—Leon—joined Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert to found the Hear Foundation, Pittsburgh’s only non-profit organization dedicated solely to working with community leaders, the Pittsburgh Police Department, and citizens to create a safe and successful community for all.

The Hear Foundation created summer youth camps in Pittsburgh that focus on academic achievement, mental health, self-empowerment and community service.

Through the Summer of Healing initiative, the Healthy America movement partners with similar organizations in 18 cities focused on promoting safer neighborhoods by building trust between community residents and the law enforcement officers sworn to protect them.

• In Atlanta, Shoot Film Not Guns Anti-Bullying/Stop the Violence, a youth initiative, educates youth in troubled communities through “Career in Film” workshops where youth learn camera use, acting, storytelling and creative writing to tell stories that are relevant. their communities.

• In Baltimore, Roca Inc. trains police officers to reduce harmful and negative interactions in their personal lives and with the community.

• In Dallas, Violence Interrupters uses relationship management and coaching to prevent violent crime from escalating.

• In Las Vegas, Hope for Prisoners connects people leaving prison with law enforcement mentors to help them overcome the challenges of re-entering society.

Real change doesn’t come easily, and we know it won’t happen in just one summer. Nor will it come without buy-in from communities where people often have legitimate reasons to distrust law enforcement.

But these types of programs are the starting point for building trust and accountability for law enforcement, which are necessary ingredients for public safety.

We are confident that these efforts will help build trust between the police and the communities they serve. And we invite you to join us in the important work of healing our city and our country.

Leon Ford is a criminal justice reform advocate, co-founder of The Hear Foundation and Summer of Healing Ambassador. Evan Feinberg is a native of Pittsburgh and now serves as the executive director of the Stand Together Foundation.


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