Calexico PAL director Miguel Enciso operates on high octane

September 08, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The executive director of the Calexico Police Athletic League, Officer Miguel Enciso, was too busy to do an interview for a story on how busy he is.

Called in the beginning of last week, Enciso said, "Sorry. The next few days are bad."

He then was called Wednesday.

"Um. Shoot. I'm pretty busy right now. We're planning a camping trip. How about Friday," he said.

"OK. Friday at 1 p.m."

He called around noon Friday. "Can we do it at 5 p.m.?" he asked. "I'm busy."

At 5 p.m. Friday he squeezed in a half-hour interview before he took a group of kids to San Diego for a soccer game.

Between questions, Enciso called around to make sure a coach for one of the sports teams had made it to practice, made sure the kids he was to take to San Diego were on their way, took time to help blow up a pool floatie for the kids and printed schedules from his computer.


He talked fast and efficiently.

Even his haircut is brisk.

Enciso has run the PAL since May.

During that time, he helped run all the league's athletic teams — the under-16 baseball team, the Aguilas, won the state championship — and coordinated all summer PAL events such as trips to Magic Mountain and to the beach.

"We took 50 kids to Magic Mountain," he said with the look of a man who has taken 50 kids to an amusement park.

On Friday, Enciso and PAL volunteers will take a bunch of kids to Silverwood Lake in Hesperia, where kids will get to build campfires, kayak and fish.

Enciso said one of the great things about PAL is it exposes local kids to a wide variety of places they might never have had a chance to visit.

"Ninety-eight percent of the kids we took to Magic Mountain had never been there before. We love to show them that there is more out there than just Calexico," he said.

Before Enciso took over PAL he worked with Calexico downtown merchants and was instrumental in the development of the police substation in the Hacienda Plaza shopping center.

In his current role as PAL director, he works with more than 600 children and often the 40 hours a week he is paid for stretches to "60 or 70."

"I jump over from being an employee to a volunteer," he said.

His office and the PAL headquarters are in a trailer park behind Robinson Ford.

It is an air-conditioned haven for local kids, complete with a TV for videos along with board games, a volleyball court and a pool.

Enciso is hoping to add arcade games, a foosball table, snack booth, sound system and a pool table.

"Instead of going to Mexicali they can stay here instead," he said.

There is no charge to the children for any PAL programs or services and there is always the presence of a Police Explorer or an officer at the PAL headquarters.

Enciso said some of his favorite times as director have come when the room is full of kids laughing and playing.

He said the interaction between the kids and the Police Department will help the children to trust police officers and become good citizens.

"It's also a form of crime prevention. We reach them at a young age," he said.

To reach youths and give them something to do, PAL takes the kids on a number of trips and runs basketball, softball, baseball and a whole host of other sports leagues.

"Can you put in the story that we are registering people for the fall leagues?" he asked.

In addition to the sports programs, PAL provides the center, which kids use for hanging out or working on homework after school.

"They come here and they learn how to use the computers — Microsoft Office, that sort of thing," he said.

In the months he has been director, Enciso has been recognized by community members for this work ethic.

In his office he proudly displays a plaque given by a mom who thanked him for the job he has done.

He said the recognition from the public means a lot to him and he wants to keep on giving something back to a community that has come to think of him as a local even though the four-year veteran of the force is a native of Whittier.

One of his plans involves a proposal for a new substation/sports complex near Nosotros Park.

In Enciso's plans the substation would function as a sort of full service sports complex for children and adults that would have an office for the PAL program and a police substation.

Enciso said he has talked to the residents in that area and they have said that more of a police presence is needed.

"We'd like to centralize our operations with that particular location and still leave this location open," he said.

The City Council has recently discussed the possibility of such a sports complex after visiting the Northern California city of Monterey's sports facility.

Enciso said city officials have been receptive to his ideas and supportive.

He also thanked police Cmdr. Mario Sanchez for the department's support.

City Councilman Javier Alatorre talked to Enciso in August about his proposal and was impressed with the 25-year-old's energy and enthusiasm he was bringing to his job.

"He's got a lot of plans, he's very excited and he wants to do a lot of things in the community," Alatorre said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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