Working as a police officer on Halloween poses special challenges. Think about it. In a world where someone wearing a mask is normally thought to be up to no good, you’re suddenly faced with scores of masked citizens. Kids are out and about darting in and out of traffic. They’re excited and and may not listen as well as they normally would, or should. And practical jokes often go horribly wrong. Needless to say, it can be a wild and trying night for cops.
Here’s a short list of tips for officers working the streets on one of their busiest nights of the year.
1. Stay alert. If it looks wrong, then it probably is.
2. Carry copies of outstanding warrants with you—the people you’ve been unable to locate. This is the one night when the dummies will probably answer the door thinking you’re a trick-or-treater.
3. Carry some candy in your patrol car. It’s the perfect time to show kids that you’re really one of the good guys.
4. Watch out for lone costumed adults, or those walking in groups. They’re probably up to no good.
5. Watch out for people tossing things from overpasses. For some reason, Halloween seems to be THE night to bomb police cars with bricks, rocks, and pumpkins.
6. Be alert for kids and adults who wear actual guns as part of their costumes.
7. Park your patrol car and walk for a while. Mingle with the trick-or-treaters. Keep them safe. It also keeps the bad guys guessing your next move. Besides, it’s a good idea to mix things up. Patrol your areas in a different order. Never get into a set routine.
8. Drive slower than normal. Watch for kids!
9. Keep an eye on the registered sex offenders in your area. They aren’t allowed to pass out candy! They shouldn’t be opening the door for any kids, either. And they shouldn’t have Halloween decorations displayed in their yard or on the house. Pay them a pre-Halloween visit to remind them of their court-ordered restrictions.
10. I preferred to patrol with my car window down, even in the winter time. Halloween is the only night of the year when I didn’t. Too many flying objects!
11. If possible, have extra officers working the streets on foot, in plain clothes.
12. Bring plenty of extra handcuffs. You’ll probably need them before the night is over.
13. Please, please, please wear your vest!
And to everyone else…