After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Oklahoma
Afterschool Fights Crime in Oklahoma
The more than 5,000 law enforcement leaders around the nation who are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, have long known that the hours immediately after school lets out, when parents are likely not available to supervise, are the prime time for juvenile crime. Over the past 20 years, law enforcement leaders across the country have relied on high-quality afterschool programs to provide supportive, stable, and enriching environments with caring adults that keep children and youth out of trouble and safe, while supporting their academic success, and social and emotional development.
The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, juvenile crime peaks between 2-6 p.m. on school days, with about 24 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.
Program Highlight: Police Athletic League, Oklahoma City
According to Deputy Chief Paco Balderrama, Oklahoma City is “a big, small town.” Its citizens, police officers, and businesses all want it to succeed. That is why there is so much passion for the Oklahoma City Police Athletic League (PAL). The program helps kids who lack resources: kids who might be in low-income neighborhoods and lack role models. PAL reaches over 3,200 children, many of whom attend struggling schools with low budgets that cannot provide the variety of sports programming that PAL does. The police department provides four full-time officers, twenty part-time police volunteer and about 500 non-police volunteers who coach and mentor on a consistent basis. They run year-round sports leagues and provide additional mentoring opportunities. The officers involved know that these kids will have a greater chance of success if they meet the right people in the right program. Chief Balderrama says that this is not just another assignment. He stresses that PAL is extremely important and serves many purposes. It creates an opportunity for kids to experience something positive and build relationships with the police, all while allowing officers to give back.
This is not just another assignment. The Oklahoma City PAL creates so many positive opportunities for our city’s youth.
Deputy Chief Paco Balderrama, Oklahoma City Police Department
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