(Photo by David von Diemer on Unsplash)

Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff has formally invited the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service to help the city “improve community and police relations.”

“Having strength is knowing when to ask for help, and that time is now,” Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said in a statement. “I welcome the wisdom and insights of the DOJ Community Relations Service to improve our police department and assist with elevating the level of community engagement with our residents.”

The call for federal intervention comes after the Feb. 9 shooting of 20-year-old Vallejo rapper Willie McCoy, who police shot and killed after finding him asleep in his car outside a Taco Bell restaurant.

McCoy’s death was the 16th involving Vallejo police officers since 2011.

This isn’t the first time Vallejo has reached out for federal help in this way. The city in 2013 called in federal Community Relations Service mediators after a man with a pellet gun in his car was shot and killed by police, stoking tensions between police and the community.

Improving relations between police and the community — a city of 118,000 people with significant white, black, Hispanic and Asian populations — is a City Council initiative, and will be developed and implemented “over time,” with regular updates and reports, city officials said.