Council weighs PAL bid

Published 8:18 pm Thursday, March 1, 2012

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, heard a presentation about an effort to establish a Police Athletic League in Washington.

After the presentation, the council took no action on the matter. Typically, the council does not take immediate action on matters that come before it when it meets on the fourth Monday of each month.

Mayor Archie Jennings told Powell the council would take the proposal “under advisement.”

Those supporting the effort are looking at setting up a partnership involving the Washington Police Department and the Parks and Recreation Department to establish the local Police Athletic League, according to a document outlining the PAL proposal.

Alvin Powell, a retired FBI agent and a law-enforcement instructor at Beaufort County Community College, discussed the PAL proposal.

“I’ve had the esteemed pleasure of working with Lt. (William) Chrismon and other members of the Washington Police Department and doing some basic legwork on the process of starting a Police Athletic League here in Washington, N.C.,” Powell said. “There are about 500 of these clubs throughout the United States. Generally, what they do is help the community, particularly the youth, in touch with the police department, juvenile probation officers and other (law-enforcement) folks, retired and active-duty.”

A PAL is an extension of a local law-enforcement agency (police department, sheriff’s office) that is set up as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization whose mission is to provide young people ages 14 through 18 who live within its jurisdiction a way to interact with the law-enforcement community through after-school sports, mentoring, tutoring, cultural development and life-skills programs, Powell said.

“Reception in the community has been extremely positive. I’m authorized to say that Dr. Don Phipps, who is superintendent (of Beaufort County Schools), is highly supportive of this. They are also collaborating and looking to see what we can do with them with this. … We’re looking at a collaboration of resources, to leverage them the best way we can. Each PAL program is customized based on the unique needs of the community.”

Powell said told the council he hopes the city will support the proposal. He also said proposal supports want to come back before the council once a more-detailed proposal has been ironed out.

“PAL would be the only afterschool program in Beaufort County in which the police department interacts with the community youth on an ongoing, scheduled basis,” reads a briefing paper on the issue. “The program would work in concert with other community afterschool programs that service a different age group thus providing a variety of positive experiences to our youth.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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