Q: I was told that the Santa Monica Police Department has an after school program for youth. Is that true? If so, what type of programs do they have and what is the age group of the youth that attend?

A: The Santa Monica Police Department has a program called the Police Activities League or “PAL” that is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to providing youth programs which help in developing discipline, positive self-image, mutual trust and respect.”

It is a part of the California Police Activities League which was founded over 35 years ago by a group of police officers, spearheaded by a San Francisco detective. Although not all cities are fortunate to have PAL, many California PAL members are able to service their surrounding communities as well as their own.

California PAL holds many different types of boys and girls youth sporting events along with many other enriching youth educational activities that are conducted in a safe, supervised environment. California PAL has also made a concerted effort to provide high-tech tools for its local PAL members to communicate, exchange ideas, and manage their PAL chapters more effectively. These efforts have also expanded to providing youth with the opportunity to gain essential technology-based training and skills for the 21st century workplace.

From its humble beginnings, California PAL has grown into an organization that makes a positive difference in the youth of California and strives to continue making a strong contribution in reducing juvenile crime and creating a safer environment within the state of California.

The SMPD PAL Youth Center is a drop-in recreation facility where children and teenagers can come and go on their own. Programs through the Santa Monica PAL are free of charge and are available to youth between the ages of 6 and 17 who live or attend school in Santa Monica. PAL has two facilities in Santa Monica that are available. There is an after school program which is held at the main branch at Memorial Park, 1401 Olympic Blvd. At this location youth can participate in basketball (as they have a full-size gymnasium), arts and crafts, dance and aerobics, play pool and video games. There is also a computer lab where youth can do their homework. There are also classes held for SAT preparation, youth leadership programs, and college applications. On Friday nights, off-site field trips are also available to youth.

The second location is geared toward fitness and is located at 2200 Virginia Ave. There are several fitness classes that are offered at PAL and are free of charge. Youth can take boxing classes, martial arts, cardio and/or use any of the equipment to work out on their own. They also offer family fitness and open up the gym for workouts for adults ages 18-24 during certain times of the day.

PAL is comprised of civilian staff and police officers that work together to mentor and guide youth in a positive direction. They have several annual events that are put together such as the “Palloween” carnival where parents can take their children to a safe place to trick-or-treat, play games, win candy and participate in a costume contest. PAL also puts on an annual toy drive and raise donations with a Santa Pancake Breakfast Raffle. Youth can also train to prepare for the Los Angeles Marathon by staff and police officers, who all run the race together. These are some of the few events and programs that are put together and offered to youth. You can contact PAL — Main Branch Memorial Park (310) 458-8988 or PAL at Virginia Avenue Park (310) 458-8688 ext. 5360, or visit them at www01.smgov.net/hsd/PAL.htm.

(The above information regarding California PAL was provided by www.calpal.org/about-california-pal.)

Q: My daughter is 17 years old and has always wanted to become a police officer. Do you have any programs that help teach and prepare young adults to become a police officer?

A: The Santa Monica Police Department has a Law Enforcement Explorer Post (LEEP). Law Enforcement Exploring is a youth oriented program, active in police agencies throughout the nation, that allows young men and women to determine if they would like to pursue a career in law enforcement as adults by offering them actual experience and training. In addition, the program provides the police department with more human resource opportunities, and opens a very important avenue for understanding today’s youth.

If you would like to become a member of the Santa Monica Police Department Explorer Post, we encourage you to apply. To qualify for the program, you must meet the following minimum requirements: Maintain at least a “C” average in school, be between the ages of 14 and 19 years, be of good moral character, have no serious arrest record and be in good physical condition. The application process consists of a written history, oral interview with the parents or guardian, and a complete background check. Candidates will also be evaluated on their maturity, genuine interest in crime and the law, and ability to effectively assist the Santa Monica Police Department.

To find out more about this program, you may contact the Santa Monica Police Department Explorer Program at (310) 434-2627, or visit our website at http://santamonicapd.org.

This column was prepared by NRO Marilyn Amiache (Beat 2: Lincoln Boulevard to Ocean Front Walk, Interstate 10 to Ozone Avenue). She can be reached at (424) 200-0682 or marilyn.amiache@smgov.net.

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