Police support PAL

Published 7:08 pm Friday, June 22, 2012

The formation of a Police Activities League in Beaufort County took another step forward Friday when two police chiefs met to help unveil the local PAL group’s logo.
Last week, an application seeking to enroll the local PAL into the national PAL organization was sent to national PAL headquarters.
Supporting that application are Mike Harmon, Aurora’s police chief; F.P. Clingenpeel, Belhaven’s police chief; Stacy Drakeford, Washington’s police chief; and Todd Alligood, Chocowinity’s police chief. Alligood and Harmon were unable attend the logo unveiling held in the Beaufort County administrative offices on West Third Street in Washington.

“I’m behind the program because when I came to Belhaven it was about community-oriented policing. Anything that dispels bad myths about law enforcement allows a small department like mine to be augmented by the public — because they are not afraid of us — can do nothing but help me in my job making Belhaven a better place… just like Washington a better place… Beaufort County a better place,” Clingenpeel said.
Drakeford weighed in on establishing a PAL in the county.
“I think from our perspective, it gives us an opportunity to interact with kids when they’re young, when they’re at that impressionable age,” Drakeford said. “I envision this program as a conduit to find young men and women who want to come into this profession. Getting them at an early age will allow us to mentor them, not only in athletics but also in academics to let them know this is a profession, and because it is a profession, certain things are required of them — going to school, getting good grades. In that process, the reward is getting into a profession that’s life rewarding.”
Those supporting the PAL effort are looking at setting up a partnership involving PAL and the Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club, with the hope of some weeklong summer camps to help expose children to PAL and its mission.
Alvin Powell, a retired FBI agent and a law-enforcement instructor at Beaufort County Community College, is among those spearheading the effort to form the local PAL. 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 explained earlier this year.
“The law-enforcement community – especially the four chiefs in Aurora, Belhaven, Chocowinity and Washington – it’s been phenomenal. I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm among the four departments. It’s almost like we were all waiting for a mechanism for this opportunity to exist,” Powell said when asked how the local law-enforcement community is responding to setting up a PAL.
Powell said the Beaufort County Police Activities League is registered with the state of North Carolina as a nonprofit corporation. At the appropriate time, he said, PAL will seek nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service.
“We will be going before the national PAL board of directors June 28 to get inducted into the national PAL chapter. Right now, we are an official, duly authorized local chapter of PAL,” Powell noted.
PAL will form a historic collaboration between those police departments. Personnel from those departments will work with retired law-enforcement personnel and volunteers to interact with youth in a neutral environment, conducting recreational activities, classroom and workshop sessions, field trips, guest speakers and day camps to improve the communication and public perception about law enforcement and juvenile-justice officials.

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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