By For Richmond Staff
Want to keep your kids safe this summer? Keep them busy. That’s the advice from Richmond Police Detective Hector Esparza, For Richmond’s Public Safety Chair.
“Don’t hang out on the street. Make wise choices. Be careful who you hang out with,” Esparza said. “As long as kids stay busy and stay constructive, good things will come their way.”
It’s not unusual for the police department to see a rise in crime over the summer because kids have nothing to do, Richmond Police Capt. Mark Gagan said.
“School’s out and now all these kids are hanging out, and that can lead to bad behavior,” Gagan said. “School age kids need a certain level of supervision.”
Anticipating the need, Richmond offers interactive programming to keep kids of all ages busy over the summer months.
For younger children ages 5 to 13, the Richmond Police athletic League (PAL) sports center will be offering the Junior Giants baseball program for free. The program, co-sponsored by the Giants Community Fund, is a summer youth baseball league that will be offered three days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting June 11. It includes lunch provided by the West Contra Costa County School District.
“Baseball is the hook, but it deals with health and nutrition and other life skills,” said Larry Lewis, executive director of Richmond PAL.
The Richmond PAL sports center provides a host of other activities, as well. A yearlong boxing membership costs $20, Lewis said. Basketball, computer programming, tutoring and mentoring programs also are available, he said.
“We want to bring kids in who need a positive adult role model in their life,” Lewis said.
To sign up for Richmond PAL programs, visit the website at rpal.org or go into the center at 2200 MacDonald Ave.
Is your kid curious about law enforcement? The Police Department offers the Explorer program, which trains males and females from 12 to 20 so they can provide security at local public events, fingerprint children, work at police substations and play roles for Crisis/Hostage Negotiations Team trainings.
Details about the program, including how to apply, can be found at richmondpd.net.
The Richmond Youth Academy offers a program for 14- to 18-year-olds interested in learning to be firefighters. Find out more at richmondyouthacademy.net.
Kids can also take advantage of the two city swimming pools: the Natatorium, known as The Plunge, and the swim center next to Kennedy High School. More information about the pools and other recreation programs can be found on the city website.
One other safety measure: tell your teenagers to pay attention to their surroundings.
One problem officers have noticed is that teens often walk around with their eyes glued to their smart phones, Gagan said. That distraction makes them prime targets for phone, jewelry and purse-snatchers, he said.
“With school out for summer, we will see more people out in the neighborhoods and unfortunately causing trouble,” Esparza said. “Have fun, but of course, just remember to always remain careful, alert and aware.”