Leon Ford and Evan Feinberg: Healing Communities in Pittsburgh


In major cities across the country, violent crime remains stubbornly higher than it was before the pandemic. Pittsburgh is no exception, with the homicide rate up to 25%.

If we want more peaceful communities, we need to develop better relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. To bridge the gaps between law enforcement and our communities, our citizens, entrepreneurs, organizations and government officials must work together to produce bottom-up solutions.

Unfortunately, when we look at 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 forward. These are the great drivers of change.

Our goal is to build the appetite for change by bringing tools, investments and resources to these local communities, amplifying the efforts of those who are already putting in the hours.

In June, one of us – Leon – joined Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert to co-found the Hear the FoundationPittsburgh’s only non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to working with community leaders, Pittsburgh police and city residents to create a safe and thriving community for all.

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

The Heal America Movementthrough the summer of healing initiative, works with similar organizations in 18 cities, focused on promoting safer neighborhoods by building trust between community residents and law enforcement officials who are sworn to protect them.

• In Atlanta, the Shoot a movie, not guns Anti-Bullying/Stop the Violence Youth Initiative educates youth from struggling communities through “Careers in Film” workshops, where youth learn about camera work, acting, storytelling and filmmaking. creative writing to tell stories relevant to 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 switches uses relationship management and mentorship to prevent escalations that result in violent crimes.

• In Las Vegas, Hope for Prisoners matches people leaving prison with law enforcement mentors who can help them overcome the challenges of reintegrating into society.

Real change doesn’t come easy, and we know it won’t happen overnight. Nor is it without buy-in from communities, where people often have legitimate reasons to distrust law enforcement.

But these types of programs provide a starting point for building trust and ensuring accountability in law enforcement – ​​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 essential 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 originally from Pittsburgh and is now the executive director of the Stand Together Foundation.


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