Police Athletic LeagueThe Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Police Athletic League is our youth mentoring program. Our mission is to provide safe activities for Putnam County youth and increase efforts to reduce juvenile crime while instilling positive values, character and leadership skills. Our young people need a lot of guidance to successfully make it to adulthood. The tools they require and the friendships they forge all become part of what they will take with them as they venture into the adult world. It is equally important for youth to understand that the decisions they make in their early years will dictate the path of their future. Our athletic and educational programs create opportunities for them to live and enjoy life while providing an outlet to rise above the circumstances they face in their daily lives.

It is our goal to afford every youth in Putnam County an opportunity to grow and develop both socially and educationally through caring and positive mentors and community support. A PAL is based on the conviction that if we reach young people early enough in their journey through life, we can assist them in becoming good citizens with strong, positive attitudes toward law enforcement officers. PAL programs bring youth under the positive influence and supervision of a law enforcement agency to expand their awareness about the role of an officer and reinforce responsible values and attitudes instilled by their parents. Studies have shown if a young person respects an officer on the ball field, gym or classroom, the youth will likely come to respect the laws an officer must enforce. Such respect is beneficial to the youth, law enforcement, parents, the neighborhood and the business community, citing “It’s better to build youth than mend adults” (National PAL, 2014). In a county with tremendous support and commitment to youth, our PAL feels we are on the verge of making an even greater impact on the lives of not only our youth but families and our community as a whole. We are excited about the future and what it has in store.

PCSO PAL takes pride in offering opportunities for our youth to participate and remain involved in positive activities. We take pride in placing our youth as a priority and building lasting and meaningful relationships with all arms of the community collaboratively. Civic responsibility and involvement have been instrumental in building and fostering excellent relationships for our PAL program. PAL has partnered with the Sons of the American Revolution that recognize individuals for outstanding civic commitment and dedication to our country, county, and city. PAL has nominated numerous youth as well as adults, who have gone above and beyond as dedicated citizens of our community, to receive medals of recognition from the local chapter. This affiliation with civic organizations allows the PAL program an opportunity to expose our youth to their responsibility as an adult and prepare them for their role in society.

Faith-based foundational teaching has also played an important role in the development of our youth from a spiritual perspective. PAL’s desire is to employ sound moral and positive fundamental behavior which encourages kindness, compassion and a caring attitude toward others. PAL has seen firsthand the tremendous benefits of youth who have an established baseline belief system. We work closely with the faith-based community and will continue to collaborate with them and invite local faith-based organizations and church groups to PAL events and camps. PAL’s emphasis on positive behavior and good morals has been very well received by parents and community partners.

PAL has found volunteers to be not just essential to maintain program effectiveness, but absolutely necessary to expand and deliver services at a higher level. Volunteers are required to pass a very thorough and concise level II FDLE background screening process necessary to work with youth. Volunteers are approved through the PAL executive board after screening is completed. They are supervised by PAL staff members and report directly to the staff on all occasions. Our volunteers are not financially compensated at any time by the PAL program, but are insured along with staff by our liability insurance, providing it is during the course of a PAL activity or sponsored event. PAL has worked tirelessly to recruit positive role models, mentors, and community-based leaders for their volunteer programs and needs. At times, volunteers are the foundation of many activities and events, when funding and staffing are limited. If you are in any way interested in supporting PAL or volunteering, please feel free to contact Mr. Barry Stewart directly.

Our PAL has provided enriching summer sports camps to the community for the past four years. Summer camps are staffed by our Putnam County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officers, PAL staff and older PAL youth mentors. Our camps are designed to instill positive values and to build relationships with law enforcement. In addition to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, our community partners, the Putnam County School District and Putnam County Fire Department have been instrumental in supporting these camps. The camps are free to the community and lunch is provided at no cost. We look forward to offering our summer camps for many years to come.

PAL has established deep roots in the community and has the vision to become the focal point for establishing a community resource and outreach center, which would further cement our program and the community together. A community resource center could provide a multitude of services including athletics, mentoring, tutoring and mental health services, when applicable. We believe we are establishing the foundation of what can become a very strong and competent tower of resources for our community. Putnam ranks very high in many areas of need, but the hearts of those living in our county are crying out for a new beginning to reunite and strengthen the fabric of our community; our PAL can be the cornerstone. We feel we can successfully stand tall in this community and serve as the resource needed for so many youth and families. PAL will continue to expand its partners and resources, and seek grant funds to afford our youth the same opportunities as the wealthier communities across the nation. To accomplish this, we applied for and received a 501C-3 status, which will increase the possibilities of obtaining grants to enhance and enlarge our PAL Program.

We believe our goals and desires align with the blessings we have received over the past four years and will stay committed to serving the youth of Putnam County in the best way we know how. Our PAL will continue its reputation of honesty, integrity and a source of hope in troubled times. We will continue to be a program that stands on moral values and the will to follow our Lord and Savior. We hope one day our PAL will be able to extend its hand to every youth that literally needs a “P.A.L.”