CHICAGO (CBS) — Students at a high school in the Englewood neighborhood told Senator Dick Durbin today how much help they get in life and school from AmeriCorps City Year service workers.

Senator Dick Durbin heard from Hope College Prep students who live with violence all around them but who do their best to avoid trouble. Sophomore Amari praised the impact City Year workers have on him at school. He said, “I had a choice of going gang-banging…shoot, but I feel like…I don’t want to do that…when you got people on your side…you want to show them good.”

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Senator Durbin thinks reducing gun violence starts at the grass roots, not Washington, including improving the morale of the police department.

“I think (Chicago police are) holding back now for fear of video cameras and DNA and losing a job over a mistake that they might make. I hope the new superintendent is the person to start restoring that confidence. Many feel that he will be,” the senator said.

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Student Christopher says he has been shot at in Englewood, only because he happened to be with the wrong people at the time. He says he’s now chosen to avoid those people.

“If you have around shooters and gangbangers all day….that’s what’s going to happen. You going to gang bang and shoot…but you have the power to change that…so I changed my crowd,” the Hope College Prep student said.

Senator Durbin says part of the answer to Chicago’s dramatic number of shootings is with organizations like City Year which work in the schools with students like Christopher. He says it also takes making Chicago police realize they’re part of the solution.

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The senator pointed out that Chicago has more shooting crimes through this point in the year than New York and Los Angeles combined.