Lemoore Council approves formation of Police Athletic League

By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore Councilman Eddie Neal
Lemoore Councilman Eddie Neal

The Lemoore Parks and Recreation Commission's unanimous support for the creation of a Lemoore Police Athletic League apparently convinced the city council to approve the PAL program at its last council meeting on March 3. 

The Commission and Lemoore City Council in the last two months has heard from Lemoore Police Chief Darrell Smith as to the advantages of such a program in Lemoore. The Police Athletic League is a juvenile crime prevention program geared toward providing educational and athletic activities for high-risk kids from 8-18 years old.

The concept was first put forth by Lemoore City Councilman Eddie Neal, a longtime proponent of youth activities in Lemoore.

On Feb 10 the commissioners heard from Smith about the possibility of using a 1,934 square-foot multipurpose room at the rec center to house the program. Funding for the multipurpose facility would come from the Facilities Infrastructure Fund in the Recreation budget, which currently has a balance of $438,940.

The goal of PAL is to surround at-risk kids with positive influences from responsible adults and police officers who volunteer their time to work with young people. Programs like PAL promote self-confidence, self-esteem, civic engagement, academic achievement and help them to become better members of society, said Smith at a Lemoore council meeting in January.

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

Police Athletic Leagues are nationally-recognized programs that get young kids off the streets and into constructive situations. The first PAL 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.

As the success of the PAL concept spread, PAL programs developed in other communities. Today, there are over 400 PAL Member Chapters in law enforcement agencies servicing over 700 cities and 1,700 facilities throughout the United States, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, serving more than one million youth, ages 5 to 18.

According to the National Police Athletics/Activities Leagues, Inc. studies have shown that if a young person respects a police officer on the ball field, gym or classroom, the youth will likely come to respect the laws that police officers enforce.

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