Baltimore County News
Michael L. Schneider, Community Outreach Liaison
Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks
The role of a Police Officer includes many responsibilities, extensive training and a huge capacity for learning. But who knew in Baltimore County that being a pal is among the police officer’s roles? Well, it’s not being a pal, as much as being with PAL, the Baltimore County Police Athletic League.
The officers actively associated with any of the nine PAL Centers throughout Baltimore County take on an important role in creating and maintaining strong and meaningful relationships with the PAL members, who range from eight to 17 years old.
This summer’s highlight was the PAL Olympics. Baltimore County Police Officers, Police Cadets, Police Explorers and numerous Fire Department members were thoroughly involved in the fun and competitive event. It was truly inspiring to see the interaction between our PAL members and these incredible public servants! You could see and feel the mutual respect and appreciation growing on the track, in the gymnasium and in the lunchroom. The Police and PAL dodge ball game was the epitome of demonstrating good sportsmanship and growing friendships.
Following are some day-to-day examples of the efforts of dedicated officers who have made working with these youngsters-in-need a regular part of their routines:
Officer Randy Stradling comes to Scotts Branch PAL to engage members both socially and athletically according to the PAL Coordinator Joan Ingram. “He is well known to our members,” Ms. Ingram shared, mentioning that the kids look forward to his bringing the occasional boxes of Popsicles to the center to share.
Over at the Dundalk PAL, Officer George Mussini is a regular visitor making himself available to the youngsters as a resource for assisting PAL members. Just for the fun of it, he’s been known to ticket PAL members for good behavior and positive choices with coupons for free Slurpees from the local 7/11 in cooperation with Operation Chill.
At Woodmoor PAL, Officer Thelia Jones and Officer Dreama Morgan focus on mentoring PAL kids with the goal of boosting their self-esteem. Officer Morgan even helps to serve the daily meals offered at the PAL Center.
At the Hillendale PAL Center, Officer Greg Suber has been offering his skills as a mentor and assisting in the area of conflict resolution among the middle schoolers and their families, not to mention his Ping Pong skills!
By playing and interacting on a social level, PAL Coordinators and officers take on important roles to help youngsters navigate through the issues of growing up. They teach crime prevention techniques, discuss current events involving law enforcement and, most impressively, one Police Officer was instrumental in getting a PAL member back into school.
We at Baltimore County Recreation and Parks are proud and appreciative of the incredible lengths our partners in caring, the Baltimore County Police Department, offer all the youngsters in our PAL program. It is a partnership that offers us all a proud future!