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Englewood First Responders group works to ease tension amid spiking violent crime, but faces challenges

Englewood First Responders group works to ease tension amid spiking violent crime
Englewood First Responders group works to ease tension amid spiking violent crime 02:51

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Fears over out-of-control crime are growing following yet 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.

Top brass at Chicago Police headquarters understands there is much more work to be done to keep everyone safe. Yet as they work on a plan, bullets keep flying.

In the Englewood area Monday night, we tried to dig into the disconnect where neighbors and police are becoming targets of guns.

"Some days we walk, we hear gunshots," said Charles McKenzie.

Yet McKenzie and the youngsters with Englewood First Responderskeep hitting the pavement.

"But you know, a last couple, man, it's been kind of crazy and rough throughout the community," McKenzie said. "We've had like four or five shootings.

Two Chicago Police officers were shot while conducting 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 Englewood (7th) District was rushed to the same hospital after being shot on Sangamon Street near 69th Street.

The Englewood First Responders try combatting the violence by engaging with those on the streets directly.

"All this talking - we can't keep doing talking," McKenzie said. "We've got to have to show action."

But there is a clear disconnect between officers patrolling the streets and those who call the streets home.

Terry: "What is the word on the street with two officers being shot in a matter of days. What's happening here?"

McKenzie: "It's getting out of control."

Terry: "What are you hearing?"

McKenzie: "Really, nobody is really saying anything, to be honest."

And the silence, McKenzie believes, speaks to the bigger problem. The community does not know who's patrolling anymore.

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 with. I had a sergeant that I was close, close with. But they moved these guys to the downtown area to protect that," McKenzie said. "But we need them in the community, because they were making a difference."

Police Supt. David Brown insisted the officers are engaging with the community.

"Despite the dangers to themselves, our officers have not shied away from stepping up and protecting this city," Brown said.

Help could come with tips to solve crimes. But McKenzie said the fear is that those arrested will come right back to the very same streets.

"You tell on somebody, they get released, and then now they're in danger. And so how can you guys protect them when they get out?" McKenzie said. "The police can't sit at their house every day."

Supt. Brown is adamant that the department's key focus is getting guns off the street and out of the hands of gangbangers. McKenzie's group is working to make sure youngsters never pick them up.

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