By Kia Croom,
The Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL) celebrated its 30th anniversary Thursday, March 29th at the RPAL gymnasium. More than 200 people attended the event, which celebrated RPAL’s history, previous year’s success and recognized RPAL members, volunteers and sponsors. Captain Mark Gagan, commander of the Central District was the master of ceremonies.
The event started out with an overview of RPAL’s 2011 activities and highlights. Attendees learned of the agency’s programmatic accomplishments over a catered lunch, served by 15 Richmond Police Officers. The RPAL staff and board of directors recognized RPAL’s four major sponsors: Chevron Richmond Refinery, the City of Richmond, Sims Metal Management and Mechanics Bank. Two major sponsors were recognized through dedications: RPAL dedicated its digital recording studio to Chevron Richmond and then dedicated its Boxing & Fitness Room to Sims Metal Management. Each sponsor contributed $26,000 to its project respectively.
The RPAL team members named Delleon (Leon) Brown “Member of the Year.” Brown is a local student and Richmond native, who frequents the Boxing & Fitness Room. With support of RPALS, Brown was able to shift his focus to studying and discovered his love for boxing.
The 2012 RPAL Board of Directors acknowledged outgoing board members DeVone Boggan and Tom Rood and swore in new board member Randy Riddle of Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP.
According to Larry Lewis, RPAL executive director, Officer C.A. Robertson brought the PAL concept to Richmond in 1981.
“It [RPAL] was originally created as a crime prevention program that allowed kids and cops to interface. Kids would have the opportunity to learn what police do and police would learn more about the issues kids are dealing with,” he said.
Since its inception in 1982, RPAL has expanded its program offerings beyond its inaugural sports outreach activities into a multi-service organization offering sports activities, youth development, education and life skills programming to serving more than 3,800 members annually (3,400 youth and 400 adults).
RPAL acquired its present facility in 1997, through a donation from Mechanics Bank. Since then, with a string of grant funds the RPAL has successfully built out the facility to include a number of amenities, such as a bike repair shop and computer training program—making it the largest PAL facility on the West Coast.