Pittsburgh EMS Medic Rescue Chevrolet 3500, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Raymond Wambsgans’ photostream

PITTSBURGH, PA (September 11, 2017) The City of Pittsburgh is launching a Multicultural Liaison Unit to help build trustworthy and sustainable relationships between Department of Public Safety workers and members of the city’s immigrant and refugee communities.

The unit will translate police, fire and medic materials into several foreign languages, hold educational events for immigrant communities, and provide multicultural training for Public Safety recruits.

The MLU is a community policing recommendation in the Welcoming Pittsburgh plan released by Mayor William Peduto in 2014. It will be comprised of members of the Mayor’s Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment, the Department of Public Safety and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. This team will work closely with members of the Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Committee to ensure consistent community input and community-driven solutions.

Legislation to accept $50,000 in grant funding to underwrite the MLU is being introduced to City Council Tuesday.

The MLU will focus on 3 major initiatives:

  1. Communication and Language Access
  1. Outreach and Education
  1. Multicultural Trainings

Communication and Language Access: Public Safety literature will be translated and distributed as well as “Watch and Learn” videos that will explain basic laws and protocol in various languages and will feature Public Safety employees from Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Both the videos and documents will be translated into the 5 most common foreign languages in the city. They are:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Nepalese
  • Spanish
  • Swahili

Outreach and Education: Both outreach and education are seen as vital for Public Safety employees to build connections and trust within the community. Events such as “Know Your Rights Sessions,” “Immigrant and Refugee Public Safety Academy” and more will be held within the region of the specific immigrant and refugee populations.

Multicultural Trainings: Multicultural training will be incorporated into the new recruit training for each of the Public Safety bureaus. These trainings will help first responders effectively address and support the public safety needs of residents with various cultural backgrounds and limited English language skills. The objective is to help officers understand, respect and appropriately respond to cultural norms when interacting with immigrant and refugee community members.

The MLU will also conduct community discussion forums and social engagement events in different parts of the city.

The launch of the MLU was made possible by a generous donation by the Heinz Endowments.

For more information about the MLU initiative, please visit the Welcoming Pittsburgh Facebook page, or contact Commander Eric Holmes at eric.holmes@pittsburghpa.gov.