Police Officer Donyell Thomas is one of the Center Directors at the 25th District PAL Center. He was appointed to the Philadelphia Police Department in 2006 and was assigned to PAL in 2017. Officer Thomas lives in the Mount Airy Community with his wife and two daughters, and, in his spare time, he enjoys basketball, vacationing, and running.
How did you first learn about PAL?
I learned about PAL when I was a kid and my friends were taking part in different basketball tournaments. I always wanted to be a PAL kid, but there wasn’t a center nearby in my neighborhood of West Philadelphia.
What made you want to be a part of the PAL Unit?
I am definitely a fan of community building and working with children, in general. In PAL, it’s a duality now, where I have that police component and get to work with the community at the same time.
History with the Police Athletic League?
I was transferred to PAL in April 2017, and prior to being a Center Director at the 25th District PAL, where I was on patrol for 11 years, I spent time training in the Paley, Ford, Harrowgate, Logan PAL Centers.
Why do you think proactive community policing measures like PAL are so important?
PAL allows both police and the community to worth together, in unison, for the common goal of bettering our communities, empowering our kids, and enriching our neighborhoods.
What is one thing you want every child to know?
No matter what obstacles or hurdles you encounter, make sure you are passionate and live out your dreams.
What kind of impact do you want to have on a child’s life?
I want to let kids know that police are here to protect and serve them. I want to strengthen the relationship between police and the communities they serve.
Did you have a mentor who made an impact on you? Tell us about it.
I had two mentors in high school. They were positive role models – they guided me throughout my high school and college years. They instilled great values in me and showed me how to build relationships in the community.
What programs do you offer at your center? What programs are unique to your center?
At the 25th District PAL, we have the standard PAL offerings, but we also have a Music and Arts Program that is unique to our center. It allows kids to take part in choir, drumline, and more.
Favorite activity at PAL?
The Citywide Basketball Program is definitely my favorite.