(WTNH) — “I just have a passion to work with kids and keeping them out of trouble. I always said I wanted to become a police officer to help people out and not to hurt them,” said Waterbury Officer Querino Maia.

 A Waterbury Officer for 23 and a half years, Officer Maia is a Police Activity League (PAL) coordinator.

“This is like the perfect job for me. Waterbury PAL is based on community service, working with kids to try to keep them off the street and out of trouble,” said Maia.

Every day, Maia works hard to create strong partnerships between youth, law enforcement, and the brass city.

“I really do think it bridges the gap. They say today’s youth, tomorrow’s leader,” he said.

A facility brought to life by the kids, “it keeps kids off the streets and out of trouble. We have all types of programs […] basketball, baseball, softball, swimming, karate. We have a mentor program,” and so much more.

It’s thanks to Officer Maia and his fellow PAL officers, nearly 4,000 kids have a safe space to play, learn and grow.

“I think just in general working with the kids, seeing a big smile on their face at the end of the day. My goal is for these kids to do their best, make their mom, dad […] whoever is taking care of them, happy and to move in the right direction and to go as far as they can,” he added.

Waterbury PAL Officers also lead community service projects throughout the year like shoveling snow for the elderly in the winter, cleaning up local rivers, etc.

To learn more visit https://www.waterburypal.org/.