Photos of Chicago police officers playing sports with children on Chicago’s West Side have gone viral on social media.
The candid moments show several officers playing football and softball with kids while on patrol in neighborhoods hit hard by violence.
The first photo, taken last Tuesday and posted on Friday, was taken in the city’s North Lawndale neighborhood.
Officers Pete Kalenik, Paul Stanczyk and Paul Komisaruk were on foot patrol in the area when they stopped to talk with the kids and play a quick game of football.
Police said someone sent them a photo of the moment and the department shared it on their social media channels, where it went viral. Officials said the moment was not staged, but was simply just officers "doing their job."
Since Friday, the photo has been shared more than 5,700 times on Facebook and received more than 2,300 up-votes on Reddit.
CPD spokesman Marty Maloney said the photo exemplifies police efforts to strengthen the relationships and trust between officers and the community.
“Is it part of a police strategy? Absolutely,” said Maloney. “This just speaks to the community policing efforts [Supt. Garry McCarthy] implemented.”
In a separate photo posted to Reddit Sunday, officers were seen playing softball with kids in the city’s Little Village neighborhood.
The user who posted the image said the earlier post of officers playing football with kids inspired them to share similar moments.
The photos come as police across the nation battle a negative spotlight with many being questioned over brutality and abuse allegations.
Many viewers on social media have commended the officers seen in the photos for their efforts in the communities.
“I love seeing this. It really helps to know there are city cops out there that care about the community,” one reddit user commented. “Those kids are going to benefit from cops being familiar and non-threatening so when something really goes wrong they can actually call them.”