Mayor Nutter yesterday appointed Susan Slawson - a police lieutenant who currently runs the Police Athletic League - as the city's recreation commissioner.

"This is a tall order. There is a lot of work to be done," Nutter said at a City Hall press conference packed with police officers. "But I know Susan is very well prepared for the challenge."

In her new role, Slawson, 46, will oversee all city recreation facilities and programming. She will report to Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Don Schwartz.

Slawson's salary will be roughly $120,000, Nutter said. The city's last recreation commissioner earned $123,188.

Slawson said she was thrilled by the new opportunity.

"I'm excited because, you know what?" Slawson said. "I really think I can make a difference."

Improving city recreation centers is a top priority for Slawson.

"That's my goal, to make these recreation centers safer better places," she said.

Slawson, a 20 year veteran of the Police Department, will take a leave to serve as recreation commissioner and will retain her police rank.

Since 2002, Slawson has been the commanding officer of PAL, which provides educational and athletic programs for kids around the city.

Under Slawson's watch, they have opened three new facilities and expanded programming to include educational and cultural activities, according to an administration press release.

Nutter said Slawson's PAL experience makes her a perfect candidate for the job.

"I know her deep commitment, not only to this city, but to the children of Philadelphia," he said.

William Carapucci, who served as acting recreation commissioner, will stay on in the administration, Nutter said. *