Wilson Police Department Chief of Police Thomas P. Hopkins’ efforts to build stronger relationships between his officers and the community have resulted in him being selected as the National PAL Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
The award was announced during the organization’s recent national conference in Miami, Fla.
“I would like to give honor and thanks to God for blessing the PAL program,” said Chief Hopkins during his acceptance. “I also thank National PAL President Jeff Hood and the National PAL Board of Directors for providing me with this high honor. Our Wilson Police Department PAL Board of Directors, the personnel of the Wilson Police Department, and the many community partners share this recognition for their dedication and commitment to PAL programs.”
Chief Hopkins’s passion for our community and reaching youth has transformed Wilson’s PAL program from one football camp each summer to a year-round program with more than 30 annual programs and events. Approximately 700-800 youth are influenced through all the camps, programs, and activities that Wilson PD PAL conducts annually
Chief Hopkins said he sees no better way to reach out to young people, develop relationships in the community, and support those in need than through PAL.
Several years ago, Chief Hopkins began to discuss ways to grow and to make sure no child ever had to pay to participate in PAL. After careful and prayerful consideration, Chief Hopkins led the PAL program to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with its own board of directors and operations. This change went into effect in 2015 with Chief Hopkins serving as executive director. After making the operational improvements, PAL experienced exponential growth.
Chief Hopkins has also led an effort to focus on longer lasting relationships with youth. He has implemented five continuously running youth mentoring programs: Boys 2 Men, Saving Our Sons, Girlz-N-Progress, Smart Girls, and one for teen mothers, S.T.R.O.N.G. Moms.
In addition to these mentoring programs, Chief Hopkins is heavily devoted to the Wilson Police Explorers program.
Chief Hopkins has also increased officer involvement in Wilson schools. Officers regularly participate in coaching, elementary reading programs, mentorship, and other programs within the schools. These efforts help build relationships with the youth and strengthen the Wilson community as a whole.
At the direction of Chief Hopkins, PAL has become the face of the department’s Community Oriented Policing philosophy. Currently these programs are available at no cost to Wilson youth: Football Camp, Cheerleading Camp, Softball Camp, Baseball Camp, two Basketball Camps, Wrestling Camp, USA Wrestling sanctioned Wrestling Club, Softball Camp, PAL Fish with a Cop event, Soccer Camp, Volleyball Camp, Tennis Camp, Field Hockey Camp, Culinary Camp, SWAT Ultimate Challenge Camp, Hiking Camp, Youth Academy, and a Dodge Ball Showdown. Every camp includes at least one full daily meal, also at no cost to attendees.
The PAL program also operates a food pantry, and a “Meals that Heal” program to feed those in need.