History

Photo of boys riding a boat

Our beginnings actually started back in the 1910s when Captain John Sweeney of the New York City Police Department had the insight to offer inner-city youth some positive experiences, which involved law enforcement. He began the Police Athletic League or PAL knowing that the program would influence the youths significantly. Police involvement and supervision at places of play – ball fields, classrooms, playgrounds engaged the children and helped to position Police Officers as friends.

Today the PAL serves more than one and a half million youth, ages 5 to 18. The organization has over 300 law enforcement agencies servicing over 700 cities and 1,700 facilities throughout the United States including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as Canada.

PAL centers offer structured and personal guidance in a safe, friendly environment. PAL provides a host of physical activities including archery, baseball, basketball, bowling, boxing, flag football, golf, track and field, tennis, racquetball, etc. PAL also provides a wide range of activities in performing and creative arts. These programs include music, dance, drama, art, crafts, photography and others.

PAL is a volunteer-driven organization. Although many chapters are sponsored by law enforcement agencies, PAL receives no direct funding from them and is dependent in large part by support from private sectors such as individuals, business leaders, corporations and foundations.