1100 Cultural Park Boulevard Cape Coral FL United States 33990
The Cape Coral Police Department’s Police Athletic League (PAL) was formed in 1994 when then Police Chief Arnold Gibbs started the program. In those days, we followed the traditional PAL model whereby we had sworn police officers assigned to the program.
Those officers served as mentors to the kids who signed up as members of our PAL organization. We had a robust boxing program as well as martial arts and SCUBA classes. Many of Cape Coral’s youth came through our PAL program and went on to be successful adults.
This operating model worked through the 1990s and into the mid-2000s until the economic downturn of 2008. At that time, personnel resources had to be moved to essential functions. Ultimately, the PAL program was shuttered.
We always knew that the need for youth outreach was still there, especially during the lean economic times. In 2016 we were determined to restart the program and Chief David Newlan gave the order to do just that, however we knew that we needed to be innovative. Personnel allocation is still an issue as we are to this day still recovering from the great recession. We had to come up with a new business model.
The Cape Coral Police Athletic League was rebranded with help from our friends at Spiro and Associates. Our PAL partnered with the Cape Coral Community Foundation and an endowment fund was established. We are now able to accept donations, which are tax deductible due to our 501(c)(3) status.
Our new operating model is summed up by our mission statement: Building healthy lifestyles and positive relationships between Police Officers and the youth of Cape Coral by connecting kids to programs and opportunities that exist in the community.
We know that the City of Cape Coral has many options for kids, world class youth soccer, two thriving Pop Warner football organizations, numerous baseball and softball leagues, wonderful Parks and Rec programs, etc. PAL doesn’t want to compete with these programs…frankly there’s no need to. We strive to foster positive interaction between cops and kids by identifying those children in our community who have a desire to participate in already existing youth activities; and get them into those programs.
This is accomplished by pointing them (or their parents) in that direction as a crime intervention tool. The second way we connect kids to programs is by “scholarship”. PAL raises money through our endowment fund and will pay tuition, sign up fees, etc. for deserving kids who want to participate but may not have the means to do so. These are the children we are most concerned for, as they have the biggest opportunity to get lost in the system and go down the wrong path.
This type of intervention and investment in our city’s youth can have a positive impact in their lives and create lifelong bonds between them and police officers.