CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Summer is right around the corner, and Cincinnati Police are paying close attention and working to knock down the number of violent crimes, especially with a rise in recent shooting violence.
On Wednesday, police and community members worked to preach a message of peace on a baseball field in Avondale, as part of the annual "Pitching for Peace" event.
"That's the way we wanted to approach this summer - in a peaceful manner, because we are on the same team," said Officer Don Jordan, who founded the Pitching for Peace program, and the Avondale community liaison for the Cincinnati Police Department.
It's the third time police and the community have gone "pitching for peace."
"Days like this give us hope that as long as we keep working on our relationships, we're going to be okay," said Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, who also took part in the softball game on Wednesday at the Hirsch Recreation Center.
That hope comes as flashing lights and sirens have seemingly become commonplace these days in Cincinnati.
"We're going through a tough period right now," Blackwell said.
As the challenges continue, the summer is right around the corner bringing with it its own issues, especially with children out of school. Keeping those children out of, and away from, the rising violent crime, is a high priority.
"We need to protect them. We need to keep them away from that small segment of our population that wants to do this very violent criminal activity," said Blackwell.
As it stands right now, six of the city's pools could open late this summer due to a shortage in lifeguard staffing levels. Four pools are set to open for Memorial Day weekend, but it's the pools that are slated to open in June that are of the greatest concern.
"We need to have those safe places for the young people of Cincinnati to go to. Certainly the pools are one of those areas," Blackwell told FOX19 NOW.
Blackwell says he's been in talks with city park and recreation officials on Tuesday to talk about some of the department's wishes for the summer season, saying that those officials are working their best to get all pools open.
Blackwell told FOX19 NOW on Wednesday at the softball game that shooting incidents are up nearly 25 percent, while the homicide rate is down.
But, there is still a lot more work to do.
"We cannot allow the shooters in this city to hold this city hostage this summer. We're just not going to allow it," said Blackwell.