Chicago police officer is a finalist for CNN Hero of the Year award

Chicago Proud
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago police officer who volunteers in her community is a finalist for CNN's 2017 Hero of the Year.

Officer Jennifer Maddox is one of 10 finalists for the award, which recognizes everyday people doing extraordinary things to change the world.

Voting is now open and ends midnight Dec. 12. The winner will be revealed 7 p.m. Dec. 17 on CNN's live show hosted by Anderson Cooper and ABC's Kelly Rippa. (CLICK HERE TO VOTE)

Maddox, who created the organization called Future Ties, aims to curb violence by giving youth a safe space.

"Many years ago, I patrolled this area and 312 was my beat. We were getting a high number of calls for service in this area and I came over to kind of see what was happening over here and noticed there wasn't any safe spaces of any spaces for the young people to be at after school," said Maddox, of CPD's Department of Public Affairs.

So she went beyond just policing the problem and created an after-school and summer program. Five days a week, kids receive homework help, mentoring and a hot meal after school.

"I feel as though I'm a bridge, bridge leader for this community because we do have the third district officer who do come over," Maddox said.

Students once in the program are now coming back to volunteer and parents are also on-site giving time where they can.

When you ask them why, they said it's because of Officer Maddox.

"To come into a place that you know is dangerous and to be in dangerous experience while being here and to continue change like that's not, you can't put a word on it. That's hope," said volunteer Alice Randale. "She always makes it known that you can do it, you are different and she always tells us to remember that we are amazing. So I want that to be upon the young ones too."

"I feel like she's doing everything she can. I growing up here I never knew one to do the things that she do. She really taps in on people lives," said volunteer and parent Tenesha Payne.

For Officer Maddox what she's done thus far isn't enough. She's making moves to touch more lives in the years to come.

"I'm just a kid from the South Side of Chicago myself, just trying to make it, survive and raising two boys in the city as well and I'm just hopeful that we can expand this program and do a lot more for the youth and the families," Maddox said.
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