CHICAGO (WLS) -- For a little while, at least, the summer evening in Garfield Park was about as close to perfect as they come.
A little music to dance to, food, and community mingled freely in the warm air as part of a National Night Out event. And there was safety; no barrier between police and they people they protect.
"We want to be able to reach out and touch them," said Sgt. Allen. "I want a kid to come up to me and say, 'Hey.' These are human beings just like us. That's why I'm here in plain clothes. Because I want them to see it's us and us."
That's how trust is formed.
"They come on the city streets with us and lead us from locations," said Ortensia Hudson, We Care 2 Agency. "They come out and they serve. They give to the community. They're hands on."
"What we're doing is always twofold," said 11th District Captain Andrew Parham. "Number one, lowering violent crime. Number two, building relationships with the community."
Both are challenging, especially in the city's West Side around Garfield Park. According to Chicago police data, the area known as District 11 has endured 322 shootings so far this year, the most of any district in the city. That's nearly 3% more than this time last year.
"The police department cannot do it alone," said CPD Supt. David Brown. "We need each and every one of you to work with us."
"We need you to help us build better, safer communities," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was also in attendance. "We can't arrest our way out of this problem. We can't prosecute our way out of this problem."
This was one of many National night Out celebrations in the city and into the suburbs.
On the Near West Side, officers joined children at a picnic for water color painting, and the mounted police unit rode into Albany Park to join the Northwest Side neighborhood in another nod to partnerships between police and the people of Chicago.