Benton County Police Athletic League

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office Police Athletic League is an official member of the National Association of Police Athletic Leagues, a national network founded more than 70 years ago.

Incorporated in 2009, B.C.S.O. PAL was founded by Chris and Kimberly Sparks, and was organized by members of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and other concerned citizens as a community crime prevention program and was the first Police Athletic League in Northwest Arkansas.

PAL programs and facilities are available to all youth, regardless of their race, religion or financial situation.

PAL’s mission remains unchanged — to keep young people out of trouble by channeling their energies into recreational and athletic programs. For more than 90 years, PAL programs have expanded to meet the new challenges faced by our youth today.

PAL started in 1936, when a New York police officer was called to a disturbance involving youth. A juvenile gang in New York City, harassing storekeepers and generally making life miserable in the neighborhood, caused the problem that pioneered this approach to juvenile delinquency.

Lieutenant Thomas Flynn, of the New York Police Department’s Crime Prevention Bureau had a special passion for helping kids and came up with the idea to provide free activities to keep youth off the street. Lt. Flynn searched out the gang’s ringleader and listened for reasons behind the kids’ antisocial behavior. From talking to the youth, he discovered that they had no recreational facilities to keep them off the streets. He talked with some of his fellow officers and some of the neighborhood shop keepers. They liked his idea and each chipped in one dollar for uniforms and equipment. Lt. Flynn found a playground where the group could play under the supervision of friendly police officers. The team was an instant success. Before the year was out, there were close to a dozen such teams in the city.

Easily America’s largest juvenile crime prevention program with over 3 million youth members throughout the United States, its territories and Canada, the National PAL encompasses more than 700 cities, counties, and townships, servicing more than 400 member chapters. Each PAL chapter is tailored to the area in which it operates, geared to the specific needs of the community it serves. Benton County Sheriff’s Office PAL is the second chapter in Arkansas to offer this to the community, with North Little Rock Police Department being first.