Parents gathered outside the Police Athletic League headquarters yesterday to protest police budget cuts. Waving signs with messages like “Don’t gut our kids’ future,” they called on the SJPD to continue its youth athletics program, and not to transfer participating officers to street beats. The police say they have no choice, because of budget cuts, but that’s not good enough for the parents.

Over 5,000 kids participate in the SJPD’s PAL league, and parents say that this is the best way to keep them off the streets and away from gangs. Aaron Resendez, who coaches soccer, says, “We have a gang of soccer players. We have a gang of good kids. We have a gang of kids who want an opportunity in life, and that opportunity is here.”

Hundreds of parents have already signed a petition to keep PAL alive, and submitted it to outgoing Police Chief Rob Davis. But the city is now looking for Davis’s replacement, and the only place that parents can turn is City Hall. From their rally at PAL, the protesters did just that. They marched to City Hall to carry a message to city councilmembers that one of the best ways to keep their kids out of trouble is to coach and mentor them, and to teach them that police are there to help them, not hurt them. Hopefully, City Council and the SJPD will feel the same way.
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