The US Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh has set aside five members to serve in a special Civil Rights and Exploitation Section mirroring a growing trend throughout the United States. When US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton was sworn into office he said he would make civil rights issues a top priority and he has now dedicated the manpower he thinks will be needed to handle the work. He says the unit cannot be judged by the number of cases it takes before the judge. “In civil rights we have an outreach responsibility which we are gong to meet which is not dissimilar to the work we do in national security,” says Hickton, “and in those areas you don’t want to judge us statistically and conclude we are not working very hard just because people are not handling cases.” He suggest another metrics, “The measure of my commitment is the amount of resources I’ve dedicated to this effort.”
Hickton and Justice Department Civil Rights Division Head Thomas Perez met today with members of the region’s various minority communities. They asked those in attendance to be the department’s eyes and ears to help bring the cases to their attention.
Not only is the prosecution of Civil Rights violations a priority of US Attorney Hickton it is also a top priority of the President and the US Attorney General according to Perez. “There are roughly a dozen US Attorneys offices that have established dedicated civil rights units and we are working to raise that number substantially,” says Perez. He says the goal is to make sure the effort is a sustained effort that lasts beyond the current administration. Perez says, “Civil rights is indeed the unfinished business of America and America will never truly be America until the promise of equal opportunity for all is a promise that is indeed realized.”