Police Officer Darren James is one of the PAL Center Directors at the 23rd PAL Center in Philadelphia’s 22nd Police District. Officer James was appointed to the Philadelphia Police Department in 1989, and was assigned to the Police Athletic League in 1995. In his spare time, Darren enjoys traveling .
How did you first learn about PAL?
I was introduced to PAL nearly 30 years ago by some friends after joining the Philadelphia Police Department.
What made you want to be a part of the PAL unit?
I like working with kids. It’s more meaningful to have positive interactions with them than negative ones.
History with the Police Athletic League?
I’ve been at so many PAL centers over the years – seven, to be exact. I started at the North Penn PAL Center. Following that, I was at MLK PAL and Mill Creek PAL. I was at Southwest PAL for a number of years, and built some great relationships there. More recently, I’ve been at Cozen PAL, Steel PAL, and, now, I’m at the 23rd PAL.
Why do you think proactive community policing measures like PAL are so important?
PAL is vitally important in our community. Through PAL, the kids have a safe place to be free and they don’t have to worry about anything happening to them.
What do you want every child to know?
I want the kids to know that I’m there for them and that they can talk about anything with me.
What kind of impact do you want to have in a child’s life?
I want to steer our youth in a positive direction, so that they can be productive citizens.
Did you have a mentor who made an impact on you? Tell us about it.
I’ve had many mentors over the years. Now, in some ways, the kids are my mentors. You can learn so much by talking to them. It’s a two-way street.
What programs do you offer at your center? What programs are unique to your center?
We offer basketball, flag football, soccer, homework club, mentoring programs for girls and boys, golf camp and so much more. What’s unique to 23rd PAL is our Drill Team.
Favorite activity at PAL
My favorite PAL activity is our Citywide Basketball Program. I like the competition among the PAL centers, and the friendly, competitive environment.