Parents have always worried about what could happen if their child went missing.
On Tuesday, children and their parents lined up for photos, fingerprinting and free DNA test kits at the Napa Police Department, part of a ongoing program popular with parents, according to Sgt. Mike Hensley.
Parents who were at the event acknowledged that while child abduction is rare and Napa is a safe city, it always helps to be prepared for the worst.
“I don’t want to be one of those parents who think nothing’s going to happen,” said Napan Monica Fiesler, who was there with her toddler son.
“It’s just to be on the safe side,” said Sara Gallegos, who was there with her two pre-school-aged girls. “If your child goes missing, they can pull up all the information.”
While waiting to be processed, children ran around the grassy area outside the station, while others got the chance to sit in a police car or see a police motorcycle. Each child who participated got a plastic “police hat” as a souvenir.
Children ranged in age from infants to pre-teens. Infants had thumb prints recorded, since their fingers are too small to identify the prints. Other parents were getting their children’s information recorded for the second or third time, since fingerprints can change as they grow.
DNA testing tools have never actually been used to find a missing child in Napa, Hensley said. But the photos and fingerprints could be useful, especially now that every police car has a computer.
Parents were given envelopes and instructions for storing samples of their children’s hair and saliva for DNA information. Police gave out CDs and USB drives so parents could record all the information in one place.
“I think it’s a real tool for parents,” said volunteer Terry Butler. “You can go to any law enforcement agency, and you have the information.”
Hensley also offered the service at National Night Out on Aug. 4, where it was one of the most attended booths.
“There seems to be a high demand for it,” Hensley said. “At National Night Out, I had to turn parents away.”
Indeed, Tuesday’s event was so popular that police ran out of ID kits. Another event will be scheduled.