Like many Napa youths with time on their hands during summer vacation, Matt Wright is bummed.
“It’s summer. It’s great there’s no school, but there’s nothing to do,” said the Napa teen.
“I’m only 14 so I can’t get a job. I can only play so many video games. It sucks.”
It doesn't have to be that way, says Napa Police Lt. Debbie Peecook.
“There are plenty of things for kids to do around here in the summer,” said Peecook, rattling off several places to find summer activities for Napa’s youth, including
- The skateboard park;
- summer sclasses;
- Napa City Parks and Recreation summer programs;
- Volunteering at the Senior Center, The Table and church groups.
“Many of the churches have summer camps for kids,” Peecook added.
No increase in serious juvenile crime seen
"Although it’s not really much of a problem for us, summer boredom can lead to bigger problems," when groups of kids tend to gather in public places, Peecook said.
But Peecook said she hasn’t seen an increase in major juvenile crime in the summer months.
“Most of the complaints we get from merchants and citizens are the kids are using profanities, smoking, skateboarding and bicycles in pedestrian walkways,” she said.
“Burglaries, violence and other serious juvenile crimes don’t increase. We maybe might see a slight rise in say shoplifting or muni-code violations, such as skateboarding on the sidewalk,” Peecook said.
“But definitely there is no need to increase patrols in the summer.”
If youngsters are apprehended for such citations, they are usually cited and released to their parents.
Where the kids are
Napa teens have their chosen gathering spots.
Some of those are the Napa Town Center in front of Kohl’s, South Napa Marketplace shopping center, Silverado Plaza shopping center and Starbucks at Lincoln Avenue and Jefferson Street.
Gathering in a public place is not against the law unless illegal activity takes place, Peecook said.
“The kids are allowed to hang out in those places as long as they don’t cause problems.”
Peecook admitted some people can be intimidated by a large gathering of teens.
“I think it makes some people uncomfortable. They are not sure what they are going to be walking by or through," she said.
“Most kids are very cooperative if we have to talk to them,” Peecook said. “They usually do what we ask of them.”
The same rules apply for kids gathering in public parks.
“If they are there during park hours and obeying the rules, they have every right to be there,” Peecook said. “We are not going to make them leave unless they are doing something illegal.”
“I wish there was more for kids to do"
Carrie Marshall, 17, believes summer is a time to kick back and “hang with my friends.
“I work hard at school all year long, and I love to have fun in the summer. I have a part-time job, so I’m not just hanging out all day,” Marshall said.
“I wish there was more for kids to do in Napa. That ice skating rink last Christmas was awesome. I wish we could have something like that all year round.”
Brittney Young, 15, agrees.
“Napa is boring. There should be something else for kids to do besides hanging out at the Chef’s Market and Starbucks,” she said.
“The only things to do in Napa are the movies and hanging out with my friends. I’m too young to get a summer job. I probably would sleep a lot later in the morning if my mom would let me. She texts me about every half hour and says ‘are you up and dressed yet?’”
Rob Myers has a few words for police officers:
“Stay off our backs. I know they got a job to do, but harassing kids who are just talking and not bothering anyone is not one of them,” he said.
Mary Daly from Michigan is visiting her sister in Napa.
“I like to come to this park (Fuller,) bring my chair and read. It is such a beautiful park,” she said.
“I usually walk downtown and have an expresso. I’ve noticed some kids hanging around the downtown area, but they seem to be well behaved and not bothering anyone.
"Summer vacation is a long time for some kids, and they get bored easily.”
Activities for Napa kids
Napa City Parks and Recreation Programs: Schedule of activities available at 1100 West St., Napa behind the Cinedome
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