City Council sends Police Athletic League proposal on to Recreation Commission

By Ed Martin, Editor

The Council got to hear from Lemoore Police Chief Darrell Smith about the Police Athletic League (PAL) at its meeting on Jan. 20. The Police Athletic League (PAL) is a juvenile crime prevention program geared toward providing educational and athletic activities for high-risk kids from 8-18 years old, and the agenda item was requested by Councilmember Eddie Neal, a longtime advocate of youth-oriented programs.

The council sent the proposal to the Lemoore Recreation Commission, which may make a determination at its next meeting. It could wind up at the Lemoore Recreation Complex.

The goal of PAL is to surround at-risk kids with positive influences from responsible adults and police officers who volunteer their time for the non-profit agency. Its mission is to provide a safe environment for youth to reach their full potential utilizing athletics and other programs geared to improving the lives of participants.  Such programs promote self-confidence, self-esteem, civic engagement, academic achievement and help them to become better members of society, said Chief Smith.

“I see a lot of kids that are at risk, and I can tell you now,” said Smith, “the recruiting is going to be easy because they’re already there (at rec center).

“The advantage will be that you will have sworn police officers at that location any time there are kids there. So there will be an increased presence so far as the police are involved and I think any community would like to see police officers in any location regardless if they’re wearing a gun or badge, and they’ll be present at that facility. On any given day you’ll have two or three police officers at that facility.”

Police Athletic Leagues are nationally-recognized programs that get young kids off the streets and into constructive situations. It was started in 1917 by New York city Police Lt. Ed Flynn who recognized that the youth hanging out on the street corners were craving structure and guidance.

Smith has worked with the Lemoore Recreation Department as to where a PAL could be located or implemented. A location might be at the city's Recreation Complex, but it could cost the city coffers up to $60,000 to move in. The money would be used to provide space for the PAL program and expand the city's Crossfit program.

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