ENGLEWOOD — A new baseball league is bringing together police and Englewood kids.
The Englewood Police/Youth Baseball League will have six baseball teams, all based in the neighborhood and coached by a police officer, as part of a summer community-building initiative.
Residents said they hope the effort will help build trust between the community and police.
“We can establish a working relationship with them, and we won’t be fearful of them and them fearful of us,” said Genia Brown, 43, who signed up four of her nieces and nephews for the league.
She said she thought the partnership would have a positive impact on children in the neighborhood.
Andrea NaTay, owner of Forever Fitness Chicago, said she's been recruiting kids ages 9-12 and has registered 110 of them. All practices and games will be at the Hamilton Park Cultural Center Park, 513 W. 72nd St.
“Anytime we can get the police interacting with young men and women at this age, it is always a positive impact," said Sgt. Paul S. Gregoire, a CAPS officer in the Englewood District. "They’re able to see the police officers not as someone who is always there when there is some type of disturbance, but they can see them as normal people, in normal interactions."
The league is a bright spot for police-community relations, as the nation is focused on problems like police-involved shootings and racial profiling against African-American men, said Perry Gunn, Teamwork Englewood’s executive director.
“There is good energy [surrounding this], and you see the Police Department interacting with the kids. All of that is good, especially with what’s going on across our country,” he said.
Gunn described the creation of the neighborhood teams as a “beautiful thing.” He said it’s always good when families can bring their children together in a positive setting.
The season is from May to Aug. 15.
Sponsors include Get IN Chicago, the Chicago Police Department, Teamwork Englewood and the Chicago Park District. There's no registration fee, and equipment and uniforms are provided, but they must be returned at the end of the season.
Parents and guardians can register boys and girls through Tuesday at www.epybleague.com.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: