Police Activities League works to combat rise in violence

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With homicides in Lexington at a troubling pace, the Police Activities League (PAL) is trying to stop the violence.

Officers work with children aged seven through 17.

Sergeant Rahsaan Berry said the mission is to prevent crime through conversation.

In collaboration with the Georgetown Street Neighborhood Association, faith leaders led a hurting community in prayer Sunday. Speakers said drugs, addiction and gun violence have hurt parts of the city.

Sunday’s gathering was held on Florence Ave. Mar’quevion Leach, 17, was killed on the street in May.

Sylvania Bell grew up on the street. She said this part of town didn’t use to see so much crime.

“We could play in the yard, and have my friends play kickball,” Bell said. “It was good back in the day. We could leave our doors unlocked, but now, oh no. You can’t do it now.”

Sgt. Berry is trying to prevent more murders from happening.

“I live right around the corner off of Florence,” he said. “I grew up here, this is my home, so we want to give back and try to make an example for all our people in our community, all our youth, all our elderly.”

He supervises PAL, a group dedicated to building relationships with kids.

“You’ve got to meet people where they’re at,” Sgt. Berry said. “That’s why we’re here today.”

He said officers and volunteers teach swimming lessons, coach sports and mentor Lexington’s youth.

“We’re going to start our new swimming team, we have swimming lessons, we do mentoring,” he said.

From July 6-9, PAL is hosting a sports camp with Calvary Baptist Church in Douglass Park. From 9-12p.m., PAL will have activities, devotion, and conversations and lessons for children.

“We take our off time each and every day to say, ‘Hey, what can we do to help?’ We get out of those cars, we talk to people on their porches, we’re helping people mow their grass,” Sgt. Berry said.

He said he has a thick skin; he wants to have uncomfortable conversations so the community can find solutions.

“We’re trying to give them coping skills, talk to them about making the right decisions, we’re just there listening to them,” Sgt. Berry said.

PAL has sign-ups available online every day. All of the activities are free.

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