At a time when interactions between African-Americans and police are fraught with tension over allegations of excessive force by cops across the nation, a team of Chicago officers are making efforts to improve relations with youth on the city’s South Side, reports The Huffington Post.

The Englewood Police Youth Baseball League hopes the sport of baseball will help combat violence by uniting athletes in Englewood–one of the city’s most violent communities–with mentors from the police department, notes the report.

“Showing them that police are human, that we’re their friend, that they are safe around us. That’s an extension of being a police officer,” Angela Wormley, police officer and volunteer coach, told the news outlet.

The league launched in May as part of a partnership with Get In Chicago, a program that works to eliminate juvenile violence, and the community welfare organization Teamwork Englewood. Comprised of six co-ed teams of athletes ages 9-12, the league meets free of charge, weekly for baseball practices and clinics, as well as mentoring sessions, according to a press release.

The league, which opened Wednesday, is led by both current and retired Chicago officers. About 100 girls and boys have signed up for the program, the report says.

If the program is successful, we hope that it can be replicated across the nation to help police officers improve interactions with African-Americans.

The effort comes as police abuse is increasingly being recorded and exposed on viral cell phone videos, including in McKinney, Texas and North Charleston, South Carolina.

SOURCE: The Huffington Post | VIDEO CREDIT: NBC

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