Austin’s 15th District police will partner with neighborhood youth in an event next month in hopes of healing tensions between the department and community.

Saturday, Feb. 27 is the date for the district’s police/youth cook-off.

Officers will work with youth in making salads and sandwiches, smoothies and a dessert for the food prep challenge.

Eight to 10 teams with youth ages 13 to 24 are invited to participate, and family and friends are invited to cheer them on.

Tensions and distrust are at an all-time high between Chicago police and black communities on the South and West sides following the release of police shooting videos in the last two months showing officers killing African-American youth.

The department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have vowed to rebuild that trust despite skepticism from residents and activists.

The 15th District’s event is one small step to make that vow more of a reality, said officer Jamay Nellum of the 15th District CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) office.

“It’s really meant to build better relations and trust with the community and police. With all the things that’s going on in the media, we figured this is a wonderful way to bridge that gap,” she said.

The police/youth cook-off will be held in the community room of 15th District headquarters, 5701 W. Madison.

For more information about or to donate to the event, call (312) 743-1495.