The U.S. attorney's office in Boston announced Tuesday the formation of a civil rights unit that will investigate and address civil rights violations at local police departments and other government and community agencies, reports the Boston Globe.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said the unit will combine the efforts of attorneys already working on civil rights cases to build a systemic approach using criminal sanctions and non-criminal remedies to combat hate crimes and discrimination. The unit, part of a growing nationwide movement to address civil rights abuses, will allow her office to be more proactive, Ortiz said.

The announcement was welcomed by members of immigrant and religious groups and other community representatives.

Chelsea, MA, police chief, Brian Kyes, said later that the civil rights unit would build on existing community outreach efforts.

"All of us have to learn from each other," said Kyes, whose department has worked to improve relations with immigrants in Chelsea. "You're only as good as your last interaction with your community."