Police Athletic League site to open in Lansdowne today Balto. Co. closer to goal of center in each precinct

November 19, 1997|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County will open a seventh Police Athletic League center today in a former county library building in Lansdowne. The center moves the county closer to the long-term police goal of a PAL center in all eight precincts.

The new center joins six in the county that provide games, field trips, homework clubs and other activities to children between the ages of 7 and 17, said Capt. Brian Uppercue, commander of the Youth and Community Resources section of the county police.

"The program really has grown in the last three years," Uppercue said yesterday. "What we try to do is locate the centers in the areas of greatest need."

The first PAL center in Baltimore County opened in the mid-1970s, he said, in Fullerton Elementary School near Overlea.

The county now has PAL centers in Towson, Essex, Dundalk, Cockeysville, and Garrison precincts, as well as in Fullerton.

Baltimore's PAL centers are based on a national model organized in New York City in the 1930s. A New York officer named Ed Flynn started a league after some of the young men he arrested complained that they had nothing to do.

From a single league in New York, the PAL idea has spread to 3,000 communities in the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico, according to the National Association of Police Athletic Leagues -- a network of 1,700 facilities serving 1.5 million young people.

"After-school programs have proven to be very useful in keeping kids off the streets, bringing up test scores," Uppercue said. "Plus, it's a safe place to go."

All of the PAL centers are in county buildings. The Police Department contributes at least one officer to help oversee each center, and for busy centers like Towson, it can be two or more officers, he said.

Employees of the Department of Recreation and Parks, as well as volunteers, staff the centers, which are open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Uppercue said.

The centers' annual budget comes from state grants and private funding such as the United Way, he said, and last year each center was given about $3,000 for supplies, field trips and other expenses.

The officers and others involved with each center also raise money through auctions, bake sales and corporate fund raising, he said.

The renovation of the old library was managed by the Department of Recreation and Parks and cost about $35,000, said project manager George Klunk.

The Governor's Office on Crime Control & Prevention donated four computers for children at the center, Uppercue said.

The center will open today at 3: 30 p.m., at 500 Third Ave. in Lansdowne. Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, County Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley and Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan will attend.

Information: 410-887-5892.

Pub Date: 11/19/97

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