CHICAGO (CBS) — Across the country, police officers are teaming up with community members for a National Night Out.
In Chicago, one of the events is taking place in the 10th District, an area that experienced gun violence over the weekend.
The annual event is designed to raise awareness about drug prevention programs, neighborhood watch groups, and other crime-fighting efforts.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports addressing the weekend violence is at the minds of many in the community, especially young people who say violence has sadly become a part of their daily life.
When asked how many lives have been touched by violence, all three Lawndale boys, ages 15 and 16, raised their hands.
“Gang-related, mostly gang related violence,” 16-year-old Sidney Sims responded.
The three teens say they know the toll violence can take on a community.
Sidney Sims lost his uncle to gun violence in 2014 and his best friend earlier this year.
“It’s heartbreaking for me to see,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of people, different people that I don’t even know, and it affects me that they’ve been getting killed by guns and everything like that,” stated 15-year-old Ismael Calderon, saying he has also been a victim to the gun violence.
“I’ve been jumped by gang members, like physical, but with no guns,” Calderon said.
“About two weeks ago I got robbed,” said 15-year-old Michael Hernandez. “Nowadays on the streets I have a small fear. That’s why I look around my surroundings.”
The three teens say their first-hand experience with gun and gang violence lead them to turn to the Chicago Police Explorers Program, hoping to bridge the gap between police and the community.
The teens are helping plan their National Night Out event.
“I believe a small event can make a big change in many lives,” said Hernandez. “I believe if everyone works together, we can make a big change and we can make this world a better place.”
Michael Hernandez feels so strongly about making a difference in his community, he says he wants to become a police officer. He hope events like National Night Out might convince other young people to consider it, too, or at least make them consider helping police.