Yale Police Officers Extend a Helping Hand to NHPD PAL Program
November 22, 2023
Yale Police Officer Matthew Franco and Sargeant Aaron Zainc joined forces with the New Haven Police Department (NHPD) Police Activities League (PAL), passionately supporting the nonprofit organization that provides activities to kids ages 8-17.
Anthony Campbell, chief of the Yale Police Department (YPD), said, “It is both an honor and a privilege for the Yale Police Department to collaborate with the New Haven Police Athletic League. Recognizing Yale University’s commitment to learning and development, we believe it is fitting to assign a full-time officer to work in tandem with New Haven, fostering the growth and development of our community’s future—the youth.”
Sergeant Zainc, who has worked for the YPD for 17 years, has been assisting PAL for more than a year, and Officer Franco, who has been an officer at YPD for 11 years, is a designated full-time employee at PAL.
Franco has found working for PAL to be the most rewarding because of the impact he can make on the children’s lives.
“Mentoring and teaching children hobbies is important,” said Franco. “Children are more susceptible to making bad decisions when they lack mentorship or guidance.”
Franco teaches activities in the program six days a week. While passionate about boxing, Franco said that strength and conditioning significantly impact the children’s lives because they develop courage and self-respect.
“When children are doing things that may be tough, they get frustrated, but ultimately, they figure it out,” Franco said. “Overcoming those hurdles can be a big confidence booster. When kids build confidence, they become better versions of themselves.”
Zainc teaches Jiu-Jitsu. He said the martial arts activity is based on a self-defense model. Instructors go over anti-bullying tactics, which include teaching children how to defend themselves physically, being vocal, and initiating discussions between the bully and the teacher. “The program builds resilience and confidence.”
PAL offers various programs, including football, boxing, chess, mixed martial arts, a summer camp, and more. “The PAL program provides kids an outlet to try something they’ve never tried or have always wanted to try,” Zainc said.
Franco said parents notice the benefits of having their children participate in the program. He said the boxing program received more than 100 applications in 24 hours.
“In 2021, after COVID-19, NHPD PAL had 60 kids participating. In two years, PAL saw a 566% increase. The program now has up to 400 children participating,” said Sergeant Ronald Ferrante, director of the New Haven Police Department PAL. “The increase shows that our community needs the programs we’re providing. It’s not about the activities PAL provides but the relationships we create.” Campbell stated, “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the New Haven PAL program for its continued partnership.”