The Watch with Will Kennedy: Sports Helps CMPD Reach Charlotte Kids

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says every youth needs and deserves a Police Athletic League.

CHARLOTTE, NC — You’ve heard the saying it takes a village to raise a child. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is taking it a step further, saying every youth needs and deserves a Police Athletic League. But it’s about more than just winning and losing.

“We see them from 7, 8, 9 years old all the way up to graduating from high school,” says CMPD Captain Norman Garnes. “So this is a tradition.”

CMPD’s Police Athletic League has been helping kids in Charlotte neighborhoods since 1967. Officers work with volunteers to offer year-round access to sports and enrichment programs.

“We just want to reach out and let everybody know that they can come to a safe place, learn basic skills of whatever sport it is, and also get involved in some enrichment activities,” says Garnes.

PAL runs a day-long camp program every summer. They also use the sports programs to teach kids how to follow rules and how to work within a team; skills they can use in other situations.

“Sometimes we be at work,” says Brian Rowe, who has two kids playing PAL basketball. “And to have the opportunity to let them come out and be at summer camp all day working with the police officers, as well as the volunteer parents, it’s real nice.”

“We get them good and tired too, so that they’re too tired to get in any mischief at home,” Captain Garnes adds.

And the kids love it; sports, friends and something to do.

“Having fun,” says James Bacote. “Just basically having fun with my teammates, and having fun, and shaking hands and good game.”

10-year old James is a rising 5th grader. He’s learning how to play the game, while learning about life.

“It’s really cool, because like police, they can also teach us new things about being a police, if we be a police, if we want to be a police,” says Bacote.

“It puts a smile on our face to see a smile on the kids’ faces, so that’s what we get out of it,” says CMPD Officer Anthony Bogues, the basketball program director for PAL. “As long as I see these kids enjoying themselves and having a good time.”

The Charlotte Police Athletic League is for kids between the ages of 7 and 15. For more information, call 704-336-2105, or visit palcharlotte.org