Photo credit: Officer.com
With Halloween weekend getting underway, law enforcement officers have to keep several things in mind to make sure their safety -- and the safety of others -- is not in jeopardy.
Officer.com Editor Frank Borelli was joined by veteran officer Steve Forgues last week on Officer Radio to discuss some of the things LEOs need to be aware of.
"This holiday in particular for whatever reason seems to result in more vandalism and silliness than many others," Borelli said. "There are officer safety issues related to some costumes in which you can't readily tell what's a real weapon or not -- and some of those pretend weapons still make pretty good impact weapons if they're used that way."
He said that officers must exercise extra caution without being "overly standoffish."
Since it's not only young children out with their parents, Borelli said officers must keep an eye out for those who may be looking for trouble.
"We have teenagers going out who are big enough to the point where, if their intent is bad, they can pose a real threat to law enforcement."
With costumes and masks being worn by virtually everyone on the street, both Borelli and Forgues agreed that it adds an extra challenge to the work of officers since known offenders can't be easily identified.
"Obviously the masks make it hard to identify those who are known to be troublemakers. That's one reason they love Halloween. They can get away with things a lot easier because they can't be identified," Forgues said.
When he's out patrolling on Halloween, he makes an effort to make contact with those trick-or-treating, whether they are young or old, and talk to them.
"I'll ask them to take of their masks and if it's a known troublemaker, I know who to be watching and that's information I can pass along to my fellow officers."
Another tactic he'll use is to run the lights on his cruiser while driving through a neighborhood to add extra visibility.
"If someone needs to flag us down, they're able to readily see us," he said.
As all officers know, Halloween patrols don't occur on just Oct. 31. When the holiday falls on a weekday -- as it does this year -- extra work can be created with trick-or-treating extending across the weekend.
"From a law enforcement standpoint, you end up having multiple days where you need to have extra coverage," Forgues said.
While extra officers on the street can help, Borelli added that they only help to a certain extent.
"Saturation patrols can only do so much good -- we can't be every place at once."