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Remembering slain Chicago police officer Aréanah Preston with her mother

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Chicago is mourning the death of police officer Areanah Preston.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRANDON JOHNSON: It's not that she was just bright and talented, but a very compassionate human being. Areanah knew that laying her life down, even for those who do not always value life, that is the exemplary example of righteousness.

SIMON: Mayor Brandon Johnson was among hundreds of Chicagoans who attended Areanah Preston's funeral this week. Areanah Preston was shot and killed as she returned home from her shift, in uniform, two weeks ago. Four teens have since been charged with her murder. Areanah Preston was 24 years old. Dionne Mhoon, the mother of Areanah Preston, joins us now. Mrs. Mhoon, thank you so much for making the time for us.

DIONNE MHOON: You're welcome.

SIMON: What would you like people to know about your daughter, Areanah?

MHOON: I would like the world to know that she was a shining star - educated, well rounded, happy.

SIMON: She was in school, wasn't she?

MHOON: Yes, she was.

SIMON: She was going to graduate from Loyola University Law School this week. What did she hope to go on to do?

MHOON: She wanted to be part of the FBI. But, of course, she wanted to do background and get more on-hands with the job, with joining the Chicago Police Department.

SIMON: Why did she want to become a Chicago police officer?

MHOON: She wanted to make a change in the world. She was really big on change and just being great, making an impact.

SIMON: Yeah. I gather your daughter was 5' 3", right?

MHOON: Yes, very small in weight and in height - very small.

SIMON: But big heart, right?

MHOON: Absolutely. She would give anybody her last and try to figure out the rest for herself, so extremely big heart.

SIMON: Mrs. Mhoon, when Areanah said, I want to be a police officer, did you worry?

MHOON: I did worry. I often worried, because I knew that she was not a kid that was familiar with the activities that were happening in the streets. That's why it was - also, even though when she became a police officer, I was in constant contact with her. Every night she was in the streets, I would call and check on her, and she would - or text her - and she would say, oh, I'm OK, Mom.

SIMON: A lot of police officers have, like your daughter, given their lives in the line of duty this year?

MHOON: Yes. She's the 600th.

SIMON: How do we handle that? What do we tell ourselves?

MHOON: It takes more than politicians to gain some type of sanity in this crazy world. It's just not all on them. It has to start at home with the parents and guidance.

SIMON: How are you and your husband doing?

MHOON: Oh, we're up and down. I'm probably more down than him, but we're both up and down. And we're just trying to make it to the next day every day.

SIMON: I gather a lot of people have been telling you how much they loved your daughter, haven't they?

MHOON: Yes. Yes, so many people, the strangers. They hope their daughters are like them when they - when she grows up. They say that me and my husband did a fantastic job.

SIMON: Well, everything I've read and seen, it sounds like you really did. I've got to ask you a really difficult question. Four teenagers have been charged with your daughter's murder.

MHOON: Yes.

SIMON: Two 19-year-olds, 18-year-old, 16-year-old. What thoughts do you have for them?

MHOON: First and foremost, I pray for them. But also with my prayer is that they never see daylight. I'll never be able to see my baby again (crying).

SIMON: She'll stay with you, you know?

MHOON: Yeah.

SIMON: She'll be with you in memories and recollections. And some of that'll be hard, but a lot of it'll be wonderful, too.

MHOON: We do have some great memories, just that she was an amazing kid that had a great future ahead of herself, and me and my family were robbed of that (crying).

SIMON: I can't thank you enough for making time to speak with us. In a way, you know, I think everything that you say and tell us is a way of helping people remember your daughter. And that's important. Thank you.

MHOON: You're welcome.

SIMON: And we spoke with Dionne Mhoon, the mother of slain Chicago police officer Areanah Preston, on Friday.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAND OBSERVATIONS' "FROM THE HEIGHTS OF SIMPLON PASS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.