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What is PAL?

In 1914, New York Police Commissioner Arthur Woods began a social movement that would eventually be known as the Police Athletic League. He was concerned for the poor children who lived in congested tenements and organized a city-wide search for vacant lots to be converted into playgrounds. He also set aside city blocks where traffic was prohibited. A goal of the program was to reduce tensions between police officers and youth. When commissioner Woods inspected play streets, mothers rushed to thank him and children cheered his efforts. In addition to providing a safe place to play, it was hoped that opportunities for wholesome play under proper supervision would reduce the temptation for wrongdoing. These Play Streets also provided openings for positive interactions between children and Police Officer to reduce tension 100 years later this PAL program continues to convey these same benefits.

St. John's PAL was started in 1991 by Sheriff Neil Perry with these same goals in mind and we are continuing this tradition today. PAL works in cooperation with many local organizations such as the County Recreation Department, St. Johns County School District, United Way of St. Johns County, Juvenile Justice, our state and national chapters and many others to offer programs to the youth of our communities.

PAL is one of the oldest citizen-building youth programs in the nation. It builds friendships between law enforcement officers and children within the community and is based on the conviction that young people, if reached early enough, can develop strong positive attitudes towards police officers in their journey through life toward the goal of maturity and good citizenship.  Studies have shown that if a young person respects a police officer on the ball field, in the gym or classroom, they will likely come to respect the laws that police officers enforce.  Our staff and volunteers also have the opportunity to be a trusted authority figure that assists children with finding guidance, setting goals, and enjoying new life opportunities.  PAL has embraced traditional American values where one generation responsibly shares its wisdom and helps kids learn to work together to be responsible for themselves, as well as set goals in their lives. 

Our Mission

Provide and coordinate programs and activities which contribute to the development of character, integrity,
physical and mental fitness, citizenship, sportsmanship and personal well-being.
Encourage and support public participation regardless of race, creed, sex or national orgin.
Promote friendly and cooperative relationships between the youthful participants and law enforcement officers.
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