San Jose May Place Police Activities League Under New Management After Critical Audit

An audit exposing mismanagement at San Jose’s Police Activities League has officials debating whether to bring the youth sports nonprofit under the city’s control. The City Council on Tuesday will discuss whether to bring the organization from police purview to that of the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department.

“The audit oft the program raised serious concerns about the managerial and fiscal effectiveness of the current model,” Mayor Sam Liccardo and Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco wrote in a shared memo.

In her review, City Auditor Sharon Erickson found that the 50-year-old nonprofit has failed to submit all required tax forms to the IRS and neglected to produce annual budgets or track charitable donations. The league also broke its agreement with the city by not setting aside its share of revenues to upgrade sports facilities, granting naming rights without council approval and not obtaining proper authorization for field and parking fees and use.

Further, the activities league expenses and registration fees were inconsistent among various soccer districts. Kids in one area were inexplicably charged more money than their counterparts elsewhere in the city. And there was no system for tracking whether coaches and volunteers had completed proper background checks and other state and city requirements to work in youth sports leagues.

Erickson listed 23 recommendations and urged the city to hire a director with nonprofit management experience instead of having police run the program.

Liccardo and Carrasco agreed that it would be a better use of resources to reassign the two officers in charge of the activities league to the San Jose Police Department’s Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Investigations units. The city also allocated $270,000 from a reserve fund transition the nonprofit to the parks and rec department.

“In addition, given the audit’s findings, an outreach plan should be developed to inform the [league’s] families and the neighborhood about the transition and what they can expect moving forward with registration, operations, and continuity,” Liccardo and Carrasco concluded in their memo. “The Police Activities League is a cornerstone in our community, and we are confident its bright future and urge staff to be creative in the plans brought forward to council.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 14, 2018:

  • The city plans to increase its contributions to the medical plan premiums for part-time employees and diversify the overall pool of enrollees by expanding healthcare options for those who live outside of Kaiser’s coverage area and aren’t yet eligible for Medicare.
  • San Jose has won a bidding battle against Santa Clara County and two private investors to buy the big blue tent by the McEnery Convention Center. The purchase price for the facility at 435 S. Market St. comes to $47 million.

WHAT: City Council meets 
 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Thank you Jennifer for writing this article. My grandsons played baseball with PAL and so did my son. I have noticed a decline in teams and the organization. Having said that I would also like to thank all the coaches and volunteers who have given their time to help youth. Moving forward, I think the City should manage the facility and not a nonprofit. The problems with nonprofits running the facility is again the City loses control on what goes on there.

    I am hoping the City can perhaps place some soccer fields there(we have yet to have soccer fields that each city district paid money for) and some baseball fields. In addition, the parking lot needs to be fixed and the bathrooms improved. The City has a history in my opinion of not keeping up parks and recreation facilities so before anything is decided direction from the council on what they want done there, cost estimates to hire and maintain the facility and how many paid employees are needed to have a top rated facility. Volunteers are great but you really need paid staff to maintain and run PAL.

    • > Volunteers are great but you really need paid staff to maintain and run PAL.

      Exactly the opposite.

      Committed volunteers are the BEST solution for a community activity like a youth sports league.

      “Paid staff” are the worst solution because they care first and foremost about their paycheck. And, as government employees, they care about their retirement plan, and which politician is going to take the best care of them and their interests. The interests of their “clients”, i.e. the children, are very far down the “paid staff’s” list of priorities.

      One-time teachers union president Albert Shanker explained the reality:

      “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

      • As a practical matter, “paid volunteers” and Silicon Valley don’t really mix these days. It’s unfortunate but true as I would like to see PAL remain under SJPD control as well. The simple fact is that San Jose PRNS is in prime position to get these services out to the public in a thoughtful, well-planned way.

  2. As community person if these findings are true Why didn’t the city pressure charges against those who operated the PAL. Im sure if it was a other community non-profit which had a agreement with the city charges would happen for their mishandling of these funds. I feel fair is fair!

  3. Andrew-you are right, I am curious to know who exactly did what. Were these police officers or volunteers? The program was going downhill especially when the City kept pulling officers and I think depending on volunteers. The audit should have names listed so those mistakes won’t be repeated.

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