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$50K awarded to DeKalb Police program for youth violence prevention

The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan and it will go to the DeKalb County Police Athletic League (PAL) to help keep young people off the streets.

DECATUR, Ga. — The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved $50,000 in funding on Tuesday to combat youth violence.

The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan and it will go to the DeKalb County Police Athletic League (PAL) to help keep young people off the streets.

Xavier Clemmons, 17, said he's been a part of the program for three years and is staying out of trouble.

"It's really nothing out here to do," Clemmons said. "You're either going to rob, or kill, or you're going to die."

Arian Alexander, 15, has only been involved for only a few months but is already seeing the benefits.

"I get new opportunities, get to meet new people, help me explore my horizons in different careers I want to partake in," Alexander said.

Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson said one of the goals of PAL is for officers to form connections with youth – one-on-one.

"I was afraid at one at one point because I really didn't like police," Clemmons said. "It's cool though. They're cool people. You have to really get to know them."

Cochran-Johnson said programs like these keep kids busy during the summer when they're out of school with nothing to do.

"During summer months, it's primarily important because we often see an uptick in crime and violence," Cochran-Johnson added.

Cochran-Johnson said the Basketball After Dark League runs until around midnight.

"Even with our best efforts, violence continues but to be able to say that on a nightly basis, we have in our prisons 200 to 250 children who would be on the street otherwise," Cochran-Johnson said. 

It takes money to keep the program free. So, Sgt. Howard Jenkins with DeKalb Police said the funding comes just in time.

"It's gonna enable us to provide funding for the next several years to our kids," Jenkins said.

Jenkins added the money will allow more kids to be involved and provide more field trips. The program is also teaching campers career skills and how to swim.

"It needs jerseys and food and those kinds of things for the kids," Jenkins said. "So, all of our programs are most certainly going to need those kinds of funding."

Clemmons hopes the next kids will get as much out of the program as he did.

"It just helps them," Clemmons said. "It keeps them motivated. And I want other kids to be motivated by it too."

The league is currently in the playoffs. The games take place at the South DeKalb YMCA.

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