February 26, 2021

Published by: City of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 2, 2021) The Peduto Administration is partnering with the nonprofit FUSE Corps to host three researchers to work on community-police relations, job opportunities for students, and creating an adult diversion program to help keep residents from entering the criminal justice system.

The nonprofit support will build off initiatives already being implemented by the Office of Community Services and Violence Prevention within the Department of Public Safety and the Community Task Force on Police Reform.

FUSE offers the services from its fellows for 12 months, free of charge. Since 2002 the nonprofit has partnered with more than 100 cities nationwide to address urban issues and help cities thrive. Fuse has helped Pittsburgh before with issues such as improving public housing and improving city buildings.

The proposed new projects are: “Creating Pathways to High-Paying Careers for Pittsburgh’s Students,” “Strengthening Relationships Between Police and the Pittsburgh Community,” and “Launching Diversion Initiatives to Reduce Racial Disparities in Incarceration.”

A proposed agreement to accept the FUSE services will be introduced to City Council today.

Through the career project, the FUSE executive fellow will start with a listening tour “connecting with leadership at Pittsburgh Public Schools and Partner4Work, and then branching out to include the region’s largest employers, students and other key stakeholders. At the end of the listening tour, the Executive Fellow will have developed recommendations for promising pathways (e.g. Emergency Medical Services, etc.) that have the most potential to secure post-program agreements. These pathways will most likely have existing strong training options and shortages of qualified job candidates.”

The project will build upon successes at the Public Safety Academy at Westinghouse High School, which trains Pittsburgh Public Schools students for future careers as firefighters, paramedics and police.

Another fellow will focus on possibly creating a police athletic league, as part of ongoing efforts by the new Office of Community Services and Violence Prevention.

The project proposal says “At the onset, the Executive Fellow will look nationally at other police athletic leagues and develop recommendations and pilot programs that build on lessons learned from other promising initiatives. The Executive Fellow will also work side-by-side with community connectors, including the Bureau’s Community Resource Officers and Public Safety Councils to identify opportunities and assets that inform programming for each zone within the City of Pittsburgh.”

Finally, a FUSE fellow will work on creating an adult diversion program to provide residents with resources to keep them from entering the criminal justice system. The program will build upon successful efforts with the Foundation of HOPE to establish the HOPE Diversion Program targeted at youth ages 12-26 who commit low-level crime.

Under the program the FUSE fellow “will map out a one-year, short-term plan for implementing the program in at least two police zones. The Executive Fellow will build internal infrastructure for the program, including necessary technology and training for officers and diversion case managers; establishing key communication pathways between officers, case managers, the District Attorney, and Magisterial District Judges; and formalizing processes for identifying those eligible for the program – incentivizing the program and building trust with the community. This plan will reflect recommendations for diversion efforts made by the Community Task Force on Police Reform, including developing zone-specific processes and programming. The Executive Fellow will also formalize a structure for coordinating and facilitating meetings across stakeholders to ensure consistent communication.”