NEWARK, NJ (CBSNewYork) – Newark‘s latest public safety initiative is aimed at the city’s youth.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney In New Jersey

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Mayor Cory Booker has joined forces with police officers, firefighters and prosecutors to recruit about 40 children, ages 10-14, to attend a special summer camp where they will learn to report crimes, stay away from gangs and carry fire hoses.

“We want to erode the barriers between police and the community and really integrate them,” Mayor Cory Booker told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney. “When you show up at a crime scene and ask people what happened and nobody saw anything, that’s often a result of there being fear and mistrust and we’ve got to get through both of those.”

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Growing up in Newark, 13-year-old Rianna Davis has witnessed the violence and bloodshed in the city first-hand.

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“I heard the gunshots from my house,” Davis said.

That’s why she couldn’t wait to kick off Newark’s first Youth Public Safety Academy.

“It’s better than staying in the house and I get to learn different things about the police department and the processes that they go through,” she said.

Instead of hanging out on drug-infested street corners or joining violent gangs officials are offering the children of Newark an alternative.

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“If you look at the suspects that we’re arresting now for shootings and for violent crime, they’re not much older than these kids in a lot of cases. You know, and this is the time that we need to get these kids, turn them in the right direction,” said police director Samuel DeMaio.