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Council hears update from Beaverton PAL

The Beaverton Police Activity League took its turn in the spotlight at the Sept. 20 Beaverton City Council.

Representatives of the Beaverton PAL updated the Council about the current focus of the organization, as well as its challenges.

Beaverton PAL co-chairs Kylie Bayer-Fertterer and Jaann Hoisington said they are close to getting a new executive director in place and said they are hoping for a more robust scholarship program for disadvantaged youth.

Beaverton City Council President Marc San Soucie asked Bayer-Fertterer and Hoisington about the capacity of the program and if it could potentially have the opportunity to help more children.

Beaverton City Councilor Betty Bode pointed out that PAL programs nationally have about 70 percent police involvement, but noted that is not the case with the Beaverton PAL.

Beaverton Councilor Mark Fagin posed questions about the direction of PAL, and asked if it was considered a program or a non-profit.

Hoisington and Bayer-Fertterer stressed the importance of PAL at a time when there is a substantial strain between some community members and law enforcement personnel. They said PAL builds positive relationships for youth with law enforcement.

Councilwoman Cate Arnold shared a story about a mother who thanked those at the PAL program and attributed her son’s successes to the program.

“Beaverton PAL helps prevent youth crime in the greater Washington County area during peak juvenile crime hours, by providing affordable, structured, and safe youth programs in conjunction with public safety personnel, caring community volunteers, and a professional staff,” according to its website.

PAL was founded in 1937 by Lt. Ed Flynn of the New York City Police Department. While working with the city’s juvenile gangs, he learned that many of the crimes committed resulted from youth who had no place to play and the lack of positive activities to pursue. Additionally, he found that the only contact the children and police officers had was law enforcement-related, and unfriendly at best. Flynn wanted to provide youth with a place to play — under police supervision — and guidance so officers could be mentors and friends instead of perceived enemies. Flynn found a playground and the first PAL program was established — a baseball league.

Currently, PAL programs include many types of athletic or recreational activity. PAL chapters vary from community to community, but all provide programs, enhancing services and working in collaboration with other agencies to service youth. Nationwide, PALs exist in the form of youth centers, summer camps and program extensions of police departments located in housing projects, recreation centers or in their own facilities. These Police Activities Leagues or Police Athletic Leagues exist in more than 350 communities throughout the United States and Canada.