By Ali Bauman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tuesday night was National Night Out against crime, an annual event to strengthen the relationship between police and the people they serve.

And as Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told CBS2’s Ali Bauman in the Bronx, the events were part of the NYPD‘s crime-fighting strategy.

There was a block party on the Grand Concourse.

“I’m really having fun because there’s a lot of things here you can play with,” 8-year-old Hawlat Dawood said.

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The Bronx’s 46th Precinct hosted its National Night Out, bringing together police and community.

“The other day, right around this area, there was a shooting and it’s really negative. We needed this. We needed for the community to get together and show their support and togetherness,” said Israel Olivieri of the Fordham section of the borough.

Shootings are up 15% citywide compared to this time last year, and are up 52% in the Bronx.

“We don’t know at any given point we could be at a place and we can be an innocent bystander,” Fordham’s Camille Luke said.

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The police commissioner attributed much of the recent gun violence to gang activity.

“What is the NYPD doing right now to get the gang activity under control?” Bauman asked.

“We gotta identify with intelligence who’s driving the crime in the city and really attack it. But we also have to bring it up from the front end,” Shea said.

Shea said he hopes events like Tuesday’s keep kids engaged and out of gangs from an early age.

“Every small interaction that happens between cops and kids has potential to really change relationships as they get older,” said Inspector Joe Seminara, the 46th Precinct’s commanding officer.

“When I grow up I want to be a police,” one 8-year-old said.

Tuesday’s event was one of more than 100 National Night Out events happening in New York City, and there are thousands of communities taking part across the country.

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In New Rochelle, Yankees legend Mariano Rivera flipped hot dogs, and kids in Jersey City sat behind the wheel of a police cruiser.

But after the fun is over, many hope the police presence and partnership will last.

“I think this is a form of an olive branch for the community. I hope so,” said Gisel Brooks of Fordham.

Ali Bauman