San Jose seeks input on rebuilding PAL program
This file photo shows the baseball opening ceremony in 2018 (courtesy of San Jose Police Activities League)

The first step in overhauling the struggling San Jose Police Activities League begins tonight, seven months after a scathing city audit revealed serious mismanagement, financial problems and no checks and balances over money.

The PAL program, which began in 1968, offers youth athletic programs and mentorship from police officers for hundreds of kids. But an audit last June found PAL administrators failed to complete required financial audits, IRS tax forms and had no procedures for handling cash or tracking donations. The 501c(3) nonprofit, which is run by an active police sergeant and reports to a 10-member board, also had no annual budget and violated city agreements for running a stadium in East San Jose.

Auditors recommended taking PAL’s management out of the police hands and instead tapping the city’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services staff to run the program with a new executive director — not a police officer. The shakeup in leadership would stabilize PAL, the auditors said, because police personnel “typically have little to no experience in non-profit governance.”

“As this report describes in detail, our review revealed weaknesses in the administration of the program that led us to conclude that a new direction may be warranted,” the audit said, “and that PAL may be better served by a specially trained executive director and potentially a different service delivery model.”

Tonight, San Jose leaders will ask for community input on restructuring the program — the first of two city-sponsored meetings this week. Parents such as Paul Murphy, a longtime San Jose resident, are expected to voice how the program has helped shape their kids’ lives.

“As a kid growing up in San Jose, it’s the best way to meet and interact with police in a positive way,” said Murphy, who oversees the county’s whistleblower program and had two sons play sports in the PAL program. “I’m hoping city staff hear from the community on what’s worked, what can improve and what a successful PAL program can deliver to families.”

Both meetings are open to the public.

WHEN: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 28.
WHERE: San José City Hall, Wing Rooms
200 E. Santa Clara St., San José

WHEN: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 30
WHERE: Emma Prusch Farm Park Multicultural Center
647 S. King Rd., San José

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