PAL aims to build community relationships early, starting with kids

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Police rely on relationships with the community to help prevent tragedy and reduce crime. (WPVI)

The Philadelphia Police Department relies on its relationship with the community to help prevent tragedy and reduce crime, and often those relationships start with the children.

The Police Athletic League has been working with kids for 70 years, and officers say that community policing is an everyday event.

Looking from the outside, a baseball game played in Kensington Friday evening may have simply appeared to be a group of kids just playing. But it was much more. It was community policing at its finest.

Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Ervin says, "This is what needs to be seen on TV, not us locking people up or chasing somebody."

This activity is just one of many events held by PAL year around. The organization has been working with police to build positive relationships with kids since 1947.

Lt. Evelyn Cintron tells us, "The Police Athletic League is about cops helping kids. It's about keeping kids out of trouble in high crime communities with low incomes."

Officer says it's behind the scenes involvement that the public many times never gets to see. Police say they don't do this for media attention, but say it's a about commitment to community and service.

Sgt. Ervin says, "That these kids see our officers do this, they inspire the kids, like, 'hey, being a cop is not bad, being a fireman is not bad, serving our community is not a bad thing.'"

In the light of the recent police involved violence around the country, those connected with PAL say they hope the public does not let bad situations cast a dark light over all the positive that's done by officers every day.

PAL Executive Director Ted Qualli explains, "We see the incidents that have happened in recent days in cities across the country and we go to bed at night figuring out how we can do more."

Members of PAL say all lives matter. They say one key to reducing crime is a stronger presence in the community and building relationships with those in the neighborhoods they serve and protect.

Sgt. Ervin says, "It is really personal to me because I am a Philadelphian and I am from the neighborhood. I feel that is what police work is all about, giving back to the community."

Some of the kids who have participated in the program in the past have grown up to become police officers. And parents, if you want your children to get involved in this program, visit:

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