By Sarah Schulte
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
CHICAGO (WLS) -- In Chicago and across the country, many communities are holding "National Night Out" rallies and celebrations in an effort to stand up against crime.
One group gathered at St. Sabina in the Chicago Police Department's District 5 before marching to the District 6 offices on Halsted. Citizens and police officers joined aldermen and other politicians on the march.
National Night Out is an event that has been held annually in towns and cities across America since 1984. The purpose is to increase awareness about police programs, and in Chicago's case, the CAPS program.
In District 5, which includes the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, the point is to build a better relationship with the police.
"Right now residents and police tolerate each other. The remains of basic distrust between police and citizens, people believe that must change in order for crime to go down. I think the relationship between police and communities in general is poor right now in the city. It's really poor and there's a lot of work that's begun on both sides. So I think that hopefully nights like this, where we're together, is not just walking together or being in the same place, but it's talking to each other and getting to know each other," said Father Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina.
Neighborhoods across the Chicago area hoped for the same. In Bronzeville, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took part in a National Night Out party.
In west suburban Bartlett, officers had to compete with super heroes for the attention of the younger crowd.
In Gary, the Night Out event took on a somber tone as it was dedicated to the memory of Gary police officer Jeffrey Westerfield. He was shot to death in the line of duty a month ago. Westerfield's daughter spoke on Tuesday night.
"I think it's incredibly important that, as a city, we come together to show people that we are against the type of violence that took away my dad," said Allie Westerfield.
Officer Westerfield's daughter said this is the first time she has ever attended a National Night Out celebration.
Many say a better relationship between police and citizens must be on a daily basis, not just one night a year.