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Federal official attends Denver forum to get ideas for improving race relations

DENVER -- As protests mount over a rash of police shootings the federal government is making a new push to unite the two sides in hopes of strengthening these relationships.

That push here in Denver brought together more than 50 community leaders, police and prosecutors on Thursday.

In a forum with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, on how to get at the heart of the problems.

To help form a national policy to deal with growing mistrust between police and minorities.

Sharing combined experiences on how to bridge the growing divide that's become a national crisis, "This storm of distrust that we already feel on our community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer.

Outside the meeting Brandon Pryor, who is African American, was taking pictures of his neighborhood.

"If we're pulled over for something,” Pryor said, “We just want to be assured that we have the same due process that anybody else would have."

"People of color,” Yates told the forum inside, “Are far more likely to be stopped and searched than people who are not of color.”

This forum is only the second one to happen nationwide, explored issues many at the meeting said go back 100 years, that are once again in the national spotlight.

"Our department has worked tirelessly on understanding de-escalation,” said Denver Police Chief Robert White, who pointed out his department puts an emphasis on protecting the sanctity of life for both the public and police who serve.

Photographer Pryor said building trust between police and neighborhoods begins out on the street.

"Definitely have some more diversity training.” He said that is one thing that is needed for police officers. “Some more community outreach, community interaction. You know, stop and talk to people.”

The shared experiences of those at the Denver forum will go back to Washington with Yates.

"What's at the root cause of some of the distrust and specifically what are some of the things that we can do on the criminal justice side ... on the law enforcement side to be able to address that trust,” she said.

After opening remarks members of the media were asked to leave the forum by a Justice Department representative, so all sides could have a “frank and open discussion” without the presence of cameras and microphones.