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Police Athletic League more than place to play basketball

Cedric Hunter dribbles toward the lane as Jacquez Wright defends during a pickup game at the Police Athletic League gym in Selma. (Christopher Edmunds | Times-Journal)

Cedric Hunter dribbles toward the lane as Jacquez Wright defends during a pickup game at the Police Athletic League gym in Selma. (Christopher Edmunds | Times-Journal)

By Scottie Brown

The Selma Times-Journal 

For 14 years, the Selma Police Athletic League has been working with youth from around the city and county to keep them out of trouble.

The program runs Monday through Friday from the time the end of each school day until 7 p.m. Students come in and complete their homework and then enjoy being on a basketball league with their peers.

But while some see this program as just a basketball league, director Det. Dorothy Cowan sees opportunities.

The program, which also consists of a youth leadership program, works within the community to make it a better place.

“We do community service like cleaning up the community and the city,” Cowan said. “We always sponsor programs when other people have things going on.”

The program also works within the school systems as an extra step for students who have gotten in trouble before they are sent to a juvenile detention center.

“We try to let them know that if they continue to do what they’re doing, that’s where they are going,” Cowan said. “But when we have them here, they’re working. They’re not in there doing any of the activities. They’re helping us clean up, mop, whatever we need them to do. However many hours they have to work, they have to come here and do that work.”

The program can see anywhere between 30 and 40 children at a time, and for Cowan that’s milestone.

“I’m kind of proud of it because of what we do. We’re here to keep the kids off the street,” she said. “Our main focus is to prevent them from getting into trouble. That means that if they are in here, even if they’re here for tutoring or our youth leadership program, they are here with us and they’re not on the streets.”