Detroit PAL celebrated the start of the TEAM UP program on Saturday, June 13th at Diamond Sports Opening Day at Maheras-Gentry Park. The Team UP program is a collaborative effort between Detroit PAL and the Detroit Police Department. For the TEAM UP program, police officers are matched with our baseball/softball teams to serve as mentors for young athletes. Their mentorship will last for the entirety of the 2015 season.
The dedicated officers at the D.P.D. and Dana Cooper, Detroit PAL Manager of Youth Enrichment, created this program in hopes of improving the quality of the relationships between police officers, kids and community.
The program has been universally well received from the officers, teams, and the community. Coaches stress the importance of restoring mutual trust with positive police interaction with the youth in the midst of recent negative headlines in the media. One thing that makes a program like this unique is the dynamics of the relationship between officers and the youth. As Officer Marcel Pruitt, who coaches the YMCA Tigers, describes it, “We’re officers and we’re here to service them, but we’re human too; we’re fathers, brothers, and uncles, so we care.”
Officers for the program were carefully selected and underwent a thorough training process created b y the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports. TEAM UP improves the quality of relationships between officers and the community by teaching the importance of good communication, the power of respect and valuing our differences. The biggest supporter of the TEAM UP program has been Police Chief James Craig. “The message for us is clear,” he stated, “We are in the neighborhoods and we are apart of the neighborhoods.”
Opening Day was a festive event that featured both softball and baseball teams competing on multiple diamonds at Maheras-Gentry Park. TEAM UP is off to a great start because of the many individuals and organizations that support Detroit PAL’s commitment to youth and improving our communities.