Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Police Athletic League

PAL Officer talking to Kids

A PAL officer hangs out with two PAL children in front of a PAL building.

An off-duty police officer talks with teenagers in front of a Police Athletic League center in 1971. First formed in 1947, the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia was intended to “build positive relationships between youth, the communities in which they live, and the dedicated men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department.” (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)

Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

First formed in 1947, the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia was intended to “build positive relationships between youth, the communities in which they live, and the dedicated men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department.” In this 1971 photograph, an off-duty officer is talking to teenagers in front of a Philadelphia Police Athletic League site. The Police Athletic League (PAL) in Philadelphia is a form of community policing, which is a concept credited to Sir Robert Peel’s advocacy for the formation of Britain’s Metropolitan Police in 1829. At its heart, community policing is an effort to facilitate relationships between the community and the police department that serves them. PAL accomplishes this by having off-duty officers facilitate a sense of community by mentoring kids in sports and in the arts and by facilitating safe spaces in the communities they serve.

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