Capt. Darryl Boykins to Receive Distinguished Achievement Award at South Bend Hall of Fame Banquet

We take a look at Capt. Boykins’ long career with the South Bend Police Department and how he used his position for the benefit of others.

Capt. Darryl Boykins photographed in his patrol car

Captain Darryl Boykins is a name familiar to most people around South Bend. As a longtime leader in the South Bend Police Department, Darryl’s held positions as the city’s first African-American K-9 handler and later, Chief.

This month we are proud to award Capt. Boykins the Distinguished Achievement Award for his extra-curricular work as the founder of South Bend’s Police Athletic League — a league including, but not limited to, boxing, tennis, and swimming programs for the city’s youth.

Ahead of the November 15th banquet, we take a look at his long career with the South Bend Police Department and how he used his position for the benefit of others.

Before becoming a police officer Darryl Boykins worked at Dodge Manufacturing where he started, of all things, a tennis program. When asked about the original motivation to start the Police Athletic League, he points back to this time at Dodge:

Basically, I had done it before at the adult level with Dodge Manufacturing, having programs there for adults to get them out and do something that they probably would not have done before if I hadn’t got them to get out and do it. I think it’s just something I had in me, to want to help.

In 1998, Darryl was approached with the idea of starting a minority tennis program for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in South Bend. At the time, he was working with a diverse group of students in the Police Summer Recreation Program at the Charles Black Center — a City parks facility in the LaSalle park neighborhood.

That first year he was given $500 to host a six-week program for people ages nine and up. Each Monday and Wednesday from 3–5 p.m. the group would gather at Washington High School, around twenty-five in total across the six week period. At the end of the program, Captain Boykins took the students to Indianapolis to see a professional tennis tournament.

The next year the Police Department created a new program wholly focused on tennis named the South Bend Police Summer Tennis Program, enabling Darryl to hire former high school participants to teach. With the Boys & Girls Club and La Casa de Amistad partnering, over 80 students participated in this second year of the program.

Heading into Summer 2003, Darryl summarized the tennis program’s influence to date:

Our past programs have been a positive influence on the South Bend community, especially as it has brought families together to participate in a sport unfamiliar to the minority community. With the success of the Williams sisters, our South Bend Tennis Program is viewed as just one step to becoming proficient in a sport that requires knowledge, strength, endurance, and most importantly, healthy living.

More Than Just a Sport 🥊

As told by Jacob Sandock in the South Bend Tribune (article shown above), it was suggested to Captain Boykins, Uniform Chief at the time, that he “create an athletic program geared for the many Hispanic kids in the area.” Darryl’s idea was an ambitious undertaking for the P.A.L. program:

My concept was to start a boxing club for all kids in the area and to then take it a bit further than that. We can all participating and volunteer our time to help mentor a kid and it wasn't just for the Hispanic kids, it’s for all the kids. I want it to be where everyone has the opportunity. The concept became to try and also get people from the community — judges, South Bend Tribune reporters, police officers — to help out and volunteer their time in each one of these functions that we’d be doing as we teach the kids boxing.
An instructor teaches boxing to young kids at The Beacon (Photo: Anna Fuller / Adams High School Tower)

The boxing club first opened at Grace Community Baptist Church in the Near Northwest Neighborhood, later moved to the Newman Center, and in recent years has been located at The Beacon, a community center filling the old Beacon Bowl.

In our recent story on former Riley swimming and tennis coach Dave Dunlap, he expressed his belief that extra-curricular activities “can help start turning around the educational problems we have” — a belief that Darryl Boykins and his team share. Darryl is quick to share stories of kids who were struggling in school until they started to learn boxing, gaining the self-confidence they needed to succeed in the classroom. He envisioned this happening even before the program had started:

I think that any type of sport that teaches discipline, that teaches self-control and that you have to respect everyone is good for the kids. It’s an art and a mentality and that’s why I think people should be more positive about something like this.

20 Some Years!

On top of the direct benefit to the youth who participate in Police Athletic League programs, Darryl believes that being law enforcement “makes it even better” because people get to experience police officers in a new way:

Being law enforcement, it makes it even better, because they get to see police officers in a whole different realm. Even the Notre Dame students get to see us in a whole different realm. The biggest point is that connection with the community. You hear that now — ‘man, we’ve got to do something’ but we’ve been doing it for 20 some years!

In those 20 some years, a lot of people have been impacted. He started the summer tennis program with 25 kids but in recent years anywhere from 300 to 500+ kids are participating in Police Athletic League programs.

This is more than a volunteer opportunity for Captain Boykins — for him, being close to the community is part of being a quality police officer. Most of the time he and other officers invest in P.A.L. is unpaid and in addition to already long days. When asked how he feels about this, his response is simple: “If I had to go back, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

The South Bend Community Hall of Fame 🎗

On November 15th we will celebrate our 32nd annual South Bend Community Hall of Fame at the Century Center. This event exists to celebrate the accomplishments of inspiring men and women who have helped to make our community great.

Inductees include: David Dunlap, Nathan Gunn, Betsy Jochum, Abraham Marcus, Benard Pollack, Arnold & Vivian Sally, Norman Eddy, with special awards going to: Crowe , Darryl Boykins, Lonnie Douglas, and the Forever Learning Institute.

You can register today! Proceeds from this event help fund extra- and co-curricular activities that are not tax funded and grow awareness of the need for student service in the community.

Join with us to support the extracurricular activities in the South Bend Schools: