RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — It’s a program aimed at lifting up the next generation and giving kids a roadmap for success. Anchor Shannon Cake gave an inside look at a summer camp run by the Riviera Beach Police Department.
One might call this a perfect summer, with warm days filled with friends and water slides.
“We go on field trips, we go to the library,” Adrien Williams said.
“We do go to the pool, play basketball, football sports and kick boxing,” Ethan Reed said.
But layered in along the way, there is classroom time where officers teach some pretty big lessons about criminal offenses.
“Sometimes kids, they go out and make minor mistakes that we didn’t know and get charged on our record," Officer Jonathan Nance said, "and so, that’s some of the things we’re trying to prevent.”
Nance is an 18-year veteran of the Riviera Beach Police Department. He runs the Police Athletic League (PAL).
Most PAL programs across the country focus on sports, but Nance and his brand new chief of police use sports to connect with the kids and then, go deeper.
“The program was all about sports, but I wanted to change it up by adding life skills to that program—-
“That teaches young men and women how to be productive citizens through life skills —not just through sports—and I wanted to add that component to the already existing program.”
Police Chief Michael Coleman has only been at the helm of the Riviera Beach Police Department for three months but already, he’s making a difference.
Once a week, he has the kids in the Police Athletic League (PAL) program pitch in to help improve their city by picking up litter.
“The initiative I want to bring to Riviera Beach is one piece of paper, one day at a time and we all contribute to having a clean city,” Coleman said. “Once you have a clean city, everything falls in line—academics, education, reduction in crime. It all starts with having a clean city and one piece of paper per day.”
“A lot of times, we can change someone’s trajectory in life by reaching out to young kids as early as 2nd and 3rd grade,” Coleman said. “We can give them tools and resources and give them options for how to be productive citizens.”
“Sometimes as a 40- or 50-year-old adult, it’s hard to change their mindset,” Coleman said. “But we can take an 8,9, 10-year-old kid and give that individual some tools and resources. We’re going to solve our problems in Riviera Beach.”
What they’re teaching this summer seems to be working by reimagining what summer fun looks like.
“Be respectful to others, no talking while someone else is talking, being responsible for your own actions,” Reed said.
“I like this program, because it helps us have something to do in the summer,” Jayden Covel said.
The Riviera Beach police officers who help run the Police Athletic League (PAL) program, many times, work overtime to make sure they are always available to the kids enrolled.
They also keep an eye out anyone who may need a boost academically and fill in when they're needed there too.