Because LAAPOA is an organization led by peace officers for peace officers, it is natural that our charitable foundation, the Los Angeles Airport Police Athletics & Activities League (LAAPAAL), is geared toward initiatives that improve public safety, as well as causes that honor those in our profession who have fallen in the line of duty. By supporting the families of the fallen, hosting local events and conducting community outreach, we are countering negative images of police in the media and improving the working environment for officers. Showing the heart behind the badge fosters the understanding that we are good people putting our lives on the line to protect others. These efforts directly boost community policing efforts, making officers able to more effectively perform their jobs. Most of all, it’s just a lot of fun for us to volunteer and interact with the public!
A large part of LAAPAAL’s mission is to promote athletic participation and establish camaraderie with our community, especially area youth. “One of our biggest accomplishments in achieving that mission in recent years has been the transformation of the Tommy Scott LAX Memorial Run,” says LAAPOA President Marshall McClain. Officer Tommy Scott died heroically on April 29, 2005, while stopping a man intent on crashing his vehicle into an airplane on the LAX runway. What started as a small tribute run by fellow officers has evolved into a full-fledged, USATF-certified 5K/10K/half-marathon that draws runners from near and far.
“It’s a day of fun and fitness that raises awareness about the real sacrifices made by the people who devote their careers to protecting the public, while supporting the Tommy Scott Memorial Scholarship Fund,” says McClain. Through this living legacy, LAAPAAL and event co-sponsors Los Angeles World Airports and the Association of Airport Employees are able to support youth and encourage their academic success. LAAPAAL has awarded over $25,000 in scholarships in the last few years alone, but the program dates back more than a decade.
“We are extremely proud to have helped dozens of promising students achieve their dreams by funding their educations,” says McClain, whose goal is to grow the Memorial Run’s participation and scope every year in order raise funds to help even more young people.
“Following the money” provides a straight line to LAAPAAL’s other top priorities, such as participation in and donations to North Valley Youth Baseball, Kids of Courage, Special Olympics and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. LAAPAAL also funds camping excursions so urban kids can have an outdoor experience, and supports the local Meals on Wheels and Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute. Finally, LAAPAAL helps take care of its own through contributions to the Police Unity Tour, Eagle & Badge Foundation and the Los Angeles Police Museum, among other causes important to those in our profession. To date, these donations total over $100,000.
“Police officers are in a unique position of interacting with the public daily, so we understand the needs of the community,” says McClain. “As people drawn to public service, being able to contribute — whether through direct participation or supporting other organizations doing good — is second nature to cops. As uses of force continue to make media headlines, LAAPAAL will continue to make sure that we are doing all we can to tell the other side of the story.”
To contribute or get involved with LAAPAAL, visit www.laapaal.org.