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UCAN Violence Preventers Step In After Violent Holiday Weekend, And They're Always Around In Chicago Communities

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After at least 100 people were shot in Chicago this past July 4th holiday weekend, a violence intervention and prevention group is taking action.

Police officers and children were among the victims who were shot this holiday weekend. But what work is happening outside of those grim numbers?

We have heard from city officials who have said the same thing over and over again, so CBS 2's Tara Molina asked the question elsewhere. Molina talked to Frank Perez, the leader of violence intervention and prevention services at UCAN.

"Whether you like it or not, you're paying for this violence," Perez said.

The organization was at work Tuesday in the neighborhoods affected by violence over the weekend – and we're told they're always there.

"We're like the jumpers who fight forest fires," Perez said.

That is how he describes his teams work after a shooting in the city after violence in a neighborhood.

"We parachute in," Perez said. "Try to get the situation calmed down."

UCAN is a Chicago-based nonprofit that works with kids and families who have suffered trauma.

They are ones who drop into a scene, at any hour, to surround the people directly affected by violence with resources at the scene of a crime, or at the hospital.

But Perez said the difference is that when the tape is cleared and the flashing police lights are long gone, UCAN is still there.

"Our guys are from the community," he said. "They live there. They know the people."

Perez emphasized that involvement from local people is necessary for UCAN's mission to succeed.

"I can't expect someone from Schaumburg to come into the hood at 3 o'clock in the morning," Perez said. "I have to have credible messengers, indigenous workers. From those communities to do this kind of work."

They walk the streets and check out local businesses, and they are entrenched in the neighborhoods.

"Everybody is assigned their own neighborhoods," Perez said.

They are trained to mediate and deescalate.

"They're walking around; they're riding around, touching bases," Perez said. "If there is a block party going on, a house party going on, they're not going in, but they're touching base with people - calm down."

And they're doing it at all hours, especially during the summer when we see violence spike across the city.

"We've actually had that," Perez said. "People come in to do harm, but because they saw the workers there? They said leave that alone."

UCAN is one of the 15 members of Communities Partnering 4 Peace, a group of other organizations doing work like this right now across the city.

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