NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven police hope a new boxing program for children will help build bonds between officers and the community.

The New Haven Police Activity League runs several programs including a summer camp, martial arts, chess club, basketball clinics and flag football.

Authorities said the Police Activity League (PAL) activities help to bridge the gap between officers and the community.

“It’s literally crime prevention. Getting them in here, sweating and feeling good. They’re not on their iPads, they’re not going out doing things they shouldn’t be doing. I think the city needs more of this with our youth,” Yale Police Officer Matthew Franco Jr. said.

The boxing program has an added bonus. New Haven native Chad Dawson, the holder of multiple light heavyweight world championships is a member of the New Haven Police Activity League.

“I want to have that effect. The police are good people. It’s good for the community to work with police, not against the police. So, for the police department getting involved, me and everybody else getting involved, we can make this a thing that’s good for the whole city,” Dawson said.

The boxing program will cater to youth from the ages of 8 to 17.

The goal of the program is to create lifelong memories and experiences for children.

Anyone interested in joining the program can reach out to Officer Franco at