Councilwoman Bevins sends letter to County Executive urging establishing two new PAL Centers in the 6th District

January 3, 2019

The Honorable John Olszweski Jr Old Courthouse, Mezzanine

400 Washington Ave

Towson, MD 21204

Dear County Executive Olszewski,

I am writing to you requesting that Baltimore County change its policy concerning the operation of Police Athletic League (PAL) Centers and to establish new PAL centers in Rosedale and Middle River. PAL centers are after school programs for children between the ages of eight and seventeen. They offer a safe and positive atmosphere for youth to get together and participate in programs to help them with academics, athletics, nutrition, the arts, life skills, and much more.

Currently PAL Centers are under the responsibility of the Baltimore County Department of Recreations and Parks. This is a change from past policy when PAL centers were operated by the Baltimore County Police Department with police officers helping to run the programs. It is my belief that putting PAL centers back under the preview of the police department would more effectively serve their purpose of providing a safe environment and exposing youth to positive role models.

Whether I am attending a community meeting or whether they contacted my office, residents are concerned about crime. Last year the County Council met with Police Chief Terrance Sheridan who explained that one of the major factors for the increase in crime in 2017 was a rise in juvenile crime. The legislative budget analysis for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Police Department Budget advised that the department has observed an increase in certain juvenile crimes since 2014. Putting the Police Department back in charge of PAL centers would be an effective way to deal with this rise in juvenile crime.

In May the Baltimore County Council approved the FY 2019 budget which included an $8 million increased investment in school safety to fund 19 School Resource Officers (SRO). The police department will assign 9 of the SRO’s to specific schools that require an additional officer. The remaining 10 SRO’s will be assigned to each police precinct and will rotate time among all of the elementary schools in the precinct’s area. The SRO’s assigned to cover elementary schools would be able, as part of their duties to be involved in the area PAL centers programs.

I am also requesting that two PAL centers be established in the Rosedale and Middle River communities. Both Rosedale and Middle River would benefit tremendously from a PAL center, providing youth with a safe environment after school. I believe the PAL centers are most cost effective when they are in already existing county owned property. Therefore I propose that a new PAL center be established at McCormick Elementary in Rosedale and Martin Boulevard Elementary in Middle River.

During an April 24th, 2018 community meeting organized by House of Delegates candidate Carl Jackson at the Garden Village Community Center, you as a candidate for County Executive expressed an interest in providing a community center for the area. During the meeting it was discussed that many youth in the area have a lack of viable options for after school activities. A PAL center at McCormick Elementary would help solve that issue for the surrounding communities of Garden Village, Hazelwood Park East, Hamiltown, and Holland Hill.

Martin Boulevard Elementary is also an excellent choice for a new PAL in Middle River. There are currently no PAL centers in Middle River. Martin Boulevard Elementary is an ideal location as as it sits near the Ballard Gardens community and is located right off of Martin Boulevard, providing easy access for participants and their parents.

Putting the police back in charge of PAL centers and establishing two new centers in Rosedale and Middle River will expose the youth in those areas to positive role models and better serve the purpose of the centers. Providing a place for those between the ages of eight and seventeen to go after school will benefit not only those who participate but the communities where they live as well.

I want to thank you in advice for consideration of these proposals. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further and I look forward to working with you and administration on these issues.

Sincerely

View pdf of letter here.