Syracuse Police kick-starts youth athletics program to strengthen community-police relations

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Syracuse Police Department launched its first Police Athletics/Activities League (PAL) clinic Saturday in an effort to strengthen community-police relations.

“This is an opportunity at our first camp to do that and bring you know different agencies and organizations here to start making, building those relationships, those intentional relationships, start making those connections cause more than ever we need that,” SPD director of community engagement, Jimmy Oliver said. 

The national program was brought to the city of Syracuse in collaboration with multiple other law enforcement and government agencies in the city, county, and state. 

With youth and teen violent crime on the rise in the city of Syracuse, SPD Chief Kent Buckner said he’s hopeful this program will help to strengthen those relationships.

“There’s certainly no question that we’re having issues with violent crime that involve our kids both as victims and suspects so anytime we can give them an opportunity to get engaged with something constructive with their time and also help them with other things non-athletic life decisions we see this as the perfect opportunity to be able to do that,” he said. 

Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies were there to participate in the football clinic, including SPD Sergeant Thomas Blake.

“I think now more than ever it’s important that the kids see us as humans and not just somebody wearing a uniform, I think far too often police are looked at as a consequence or a bad thing so any chance we can get to try to ease that kind of community tension that sometimes exists, we should take full advantage of that,” Sergeant Blake said. 

The first clinic was held at Nottingham High School and volunteers from the Nottingham varsity football team as well as their head coach and athletic director were there to help run the camp. 

The three additional camps will be held every Saturday throughout the month of July as follows:

  • Soccer: Saturday July 17, 2021 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Schiller Park
  • Dance: Saturday July 24, 2021 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Community Folk Art Center
  • Basketball: Saturday July 31, 2021 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Higher Onondaga Park

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