“Saturday Night Lights” Program Funded Through Confiscated Drug Money
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the Police Athletic League (PAL), the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Pro Hoops, Inc. today announced the winter session of the PAL Pro Hoops Basketball Training Camp, a free program for youth aged 12-16 in the Harlem and the surrounding area. The Training Camp, called “Saturday Night Lights” because it keeps the lights on in a previously-closed gym, is funded though asset forfeiture money seized during anti-drug initiatives. The funds pay for professional trainers and equipment. Seeking to engage kids during evening hours—the most vulnerable hours—the program gives 80 young people a positive, constructive and fun activity on weekend nights. The Training Camp initially ran as an 8-week program in October and November in the PAL Harlem Center, which had been previously closed on Saturday nights. Because of the popularity of the program with children in the Harlem community, the program has been expanded to Friday and Saturday nights, with two sessions per night, beginning on Friday, December 2, and continuing through January 28, 2012. The first session on Friday nights will be for female participants.
“Our responsibility to protect the public isn’t just about prosecuting cases — it’s also about partnering with communities to make sure that our kids remain safe and stay on the right track,” said District Attorney Vance. “By using money seized from cases that take drug dealers off the streets, we are able to give kids in these neighborhoods a safe and fun place to go to on weekend nights. They learn basketball skills from one of the elite training programs in the country, and interact with members of law enforcement. I thank PAL, NYPD, DEA and Pro Hoops, as well as the student participants for making this program such a success.”
Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Wilbert L. Plummer said: “Drug trafficking is like a dead end street and throughout our cooperative law enforcement sources we have taken the profits from drug dealers to profit our communities through projects like this Basketball program. By seizing the money that is made by distributing poison in our neighborhoods we have turned it into a profit for the teens who are learning to work as a team in sports and life.”
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: "Friday and Saturday basketball nights are a slam dunk for youth this winter, coming on the heels of this fall's training camp in Harlem. NYPD officers work with the Police Athletic League year-round to provide kids throughout New York City with safe, supervised places to play, grow and learn. Keeping the courts open and young people out of harm's way are a win for everyone involved. It’s a great use of forfeiture funds.”
Acting Executive Director of the New York City Police Athletic League Alana Sweeny said: “This program keeps youth off the streets and learning new skills in the company of excellent role models. It is a great approach to crime prevention through positive youth development.”
Director of Pro Hoops, Inc. Ross Burns said: “Pro Hoops is honored to partner with the Manhattan DA’s Office, PAL, NYPD and DEA on our new project — PAL/ Pro Hoops Basketball Training. Together, we have created an exceptional basketball training program which will benefit kids in Harlem and serve to enhance the community.”
Partnering with the NYPD, PAL, and Pro Hoops, Inc., the DA’s Office helped to reopen the PAL Harlem Center located at 441 Manhattan Avenue, which had been closed on Saturday nights for the past 5 years. The DA’s Office and DEA are using asset forfeiture money to hire Pro Hoops, Inc., one of the country’s premier basketball training programs responsible for training some of the biggest names in the NBA, as well as some of the most promising middle school, high school, and college-aged players. The program’s guest assistant coaches include professional and college players, as well as members of the DA’s Office, PAL, NYPD and DEA.
The Training Camp’s previous session concluded with a tournament on November 19, where over 70 students played 3-on-3 games in front of hundreds of family and friends. Guest appearances at the tournament included Detroit Pistons star Ben Gordan and Golden State Warriors star Charles Jenkins.
If you would like more information about the program, please contact Estelle Strykers-Santiago at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (212) 335-9340, firstname.lastname@example.org or Alberto Guerrero at the Police Athletic League (212) 665-8699, ext. 210, email@example.com.