Oakland County Sheriff pushes to expand Police Athletic Program

At its best, sports and exercise can do wonderful things for kids.

From the function of team work to learning how to keep one's emotions in check, partaking in any game establishes a foundation of maturity and develops that. That's at the core of what the Oakland County Sheriff is trying to build with his PAL program.

"You understand I can lose a game without losing my temper. I can be a good sport," said Mike Bouchard. "I can say 'hey, you elbowed me,' 'I get a foul,' I get to shoot.' It's part of the game, shake hands and the game is over."

"You don't have to take it into the parking lot."

Bouchard started the Police Athletic League six years ago, as a way address crime in the entire county

"Bloomfield directly touches Pontiac, so talk about disparities and income and opportunity by ZIP Code," he said.

Bouchard says when people think of Oakland County, they typically don't think of those that are in need. It's one of the most affluent counties in Michigan.

"'Variety Feeds Kids' feeds elementary kids all through the weekend. We give them a bag to carry the kids through the weekend because they don't have enough food at home," he said.

While Bouchard's PAL program is designed to help those in need, it is also in need of resources. He said 90 percent of what they do is with volunteers. They have launched partnerships with groups like United Ways to jump start programs, but are still limited by a lack of resources.

"We're there to help them, we don't want to arrest anybody but we have to as part of our job sometimes," he said. "We're like the Dean of discipline in a school. We'd rather not but, sometimes that's our job...but that's not all of our job."