RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A non-profit group in Richmond is bringing police and young people in the community together through sports.
On any given night of the week, you can find coach Perry Barber in the gym checking in on athletes boxing behind Henderson Middle School.
Just a few hours earlier, the same coach was across town at a city field giving another group of boys pointers on how to play lacrosse.
He’s one of many Richmond Police officers who, after they clock out for the day, volunteer countless hours coaching kids in the Police Athletic League known as PAL.
For many of the officers, PAL is much more than coaching kids. They say it’s a program that’s had a direct impact on their lives. Officers like Virgil Burton.
“For me PAL is kind of near and dear to me because I was a PAL kid,” Burton told 8News.
Burton says from coaching them to seeing them in their neighborhoods, relationships are being built.
“So if the community sees one kid engaged with a police officer then that kind of sends a story to let other kids know that it’s okay to be engaged with a police officer,” Burton said.
Sgt. James Killingsworth added, “when you’re out there playing sports and coaching, all the other noise just kind of fades away.”