April 21, 2022

“Stepping Up To Serve” – JPD Police Athletic League (PAL Program) Uses Basketball to Mentor Jackson Youth

Nicole McCardle

(Left) Assistant JPD Police Chief, Joseph Wade. (Right) Commander/Director of Training, Alfred Cooper.

“STEPPING UP TO SERVE” IS A MISSISIPPI-BASED INITIATIVE TO SHOWCASE PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY WHO ARE GOING THE EXTRA MILE TO GIVE BACK. THIS SEGMENT IS MADE POSSIBLE BY:

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“Stepping Up To Serve” – JPD Police Athletic League (PAL Program) Uses Basketball to Mentor Jackson Youth

(Video can be found at end of this article.)

Assistant Chief Joseph Wade introduced The Police Athletic League to the Jackson Police Department in 2006 in an attempt to fill a void he saw in the community.

“I started this program back in 2006 because I felt there was a need,” said Wade.

“I wanted to break the cycle. I wanted to build a relationship with the kids, the youth here, within the city of Jackson.”

Assistant Police Chief Joseph Wade speaks to the team before the game

The means by which he built those relationship was simple: a basketball.

The Police Athletic League (known as The PAL Program) is an organization in which members of the police force are volunteer coaches for a local youth sports program.

Engaging with kids in this way helps them not only build character, but also helps strengthen local police-community relations.

“We take this job very seriously. Because these kids need it. We support them on and off duty. We’re a part of their life,” said Wade.

During the basketball games, it’s easy to notice the respect, love, and support the coaches give to the kids on the team. Each child had the opportunity to play, each child was cheered on, each child was given a hug and a high-five, each child was special.

But feeling special and winning basketball games is not the only goal.

JPD Director of Training, Commander Alfred Cooper, is also a PAL coach.

“It’s a game. It’s our opportunity to get them in there. That’s it,” said Cooper.

Commander Copper, Assistant Chief Wade, and Commander Vance in a huddle with the PAL team.

“We love to get them in there and talk about schoolwork. Talk about being aware of their civic duty. Being a good citizen. Things of that nature. That’s what we want to do.”

According to the National Association of Police Athletic/Activities League, Inc., studies have shown that if a young person engages and interacts with law enforcement on the ball field, gym or classroom, the child will likely come to respect the laws that police officers enforce.

Local authorities such as Councilman Kenneth Stokes also support the PAL Program.

“When you look at Jackson, Mississippi. . . all of us have come from rough backgrounds. We all had somebody guide us, a coach, someone to give us love – and that’s why we give back to the children,” said Stokes.

If you would like to get your child involved in the PAL Program, please contact Jackson Police Department at (601) 960-1217.

VIDEO: JPD PAL Program

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