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Englewood First Responders are working to ease tensions amid violent crime, but face challenges


CHICAGO (CBS) — Fears of uncontrollable crime are growing after another violent weekend.

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Monday night, criminals seem to be getting more brazen — and police officers are becoming frequent targets.

The top brass at Chicago Police Headquarters understand that there is still a lot of work to be done to keep everyone safe. Yet as they work on a plan, the bullets keep flying.

In the Englewood area on Monday night, we tried to dig the disconnect where neighbors and police come under fire.

“Some days we walk, we hear gunshots,” Charles McKenzie said.

Still, McKenzie and the young people with Englewood First Responders continue to hit the pavement.

“But you know, one last couple, man, it’s been kind of crazy and rough all over the community,” McKenzie said. “We had four or five shootings.

Two Chicago police officers were shot while carrying out separate traffic stops.

One, Officer Fernanda Ballesteros, was shot and wounded Wednesday at 61st and Paulina streets. Doctors released Officer Ballesteros from the University of Chicago Medical Center on Monday.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, an officer from the same district of Englewood (7th) was rushed to the same hospital after being shot on Sangamon Street near 69th Street.

Englewood’s first responders attempt to address violence by speaking directly to people on the streets.

“All this talk – we can’t keep talking,” McKenzie said. “We have to show some action.”

But there is a distinct disconnect between the officers who patrol the streets and those who live on the streets.

Terri: “What’s the word on the street with two officers shot in days. What’s going on here?”

McKenzie: “It’s getting out of control.”

Terri: ” What do you mean ? »

McKenzie: “Really, no one really says anything, to be honest.”

And the silence, McKenzie believes, speaks to the bigger problem. The community no longer knows who is patrolling.

McKenzie says despite working with the 7th District, he’s limited.

“I’m only connected to one – and that’s the commander. I had a lieutenant that I was close to. I had a sergeant that I was close to, very close to. But they moved those guys downtown to protect this,” McKenzie said. “But we need them in the community because they were making a difference.”

Police Superintendent David Brown insisted that officers engage with the community.

“Despite the dangers to themselves, our officers did not hesitate to step in and protect this town,” Brown said.

Help might come with tips for solving crimes. But McKenzie said the fear is that those arrested will return directly to the same streets.

“You talk to someone, he’s released, and now he’s in danger. So how can you protect him when he comes out?” McKenzie said. “The police can’t sit at their house every day.”

Supt. Brown is adamant that the department’s main goal is to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of gangsters. McKenzie’s group works to make sure young people never take them.


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