Police step up patrols ahead of Halloween festivities
With Halloween festivities and trick-or-treating across Kanawha County happening this week, local law enforcement is stepping up patrols.
While some police chiefs said they don't have many issues with vandalism or Halloween mischief, they do want to keep trick-or-treaters and their parents safe.
In South Charleston, Police Chief Brad Rinehart said the department would have extra patrols -- particularly during the city's trick-or-treat hours on Thursday.
"We usually do (have extra patrols) -- not so much for vandalism, but for safety," he said. "We've never really had any vandalism."
Rinehart said the department would particularly target residential areas with a high number of trick-or-treaters, like the East Hills and the Rock Lake subdivision, for example.
Across the Kanawha River in Dunbar, Police Chief Earl Whittington said his department would have extra patrols as well.
Police in Nitro, though, have more than just trick-or-treating to deal with Thursday evening - the walk across for the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge is that night as well. Chief Brian Oxley said the city's police department would have a handle on both events.
"We usually always have double the manpower for trick-or-treat night," he said. We stay on top of things."
Other municipal police departments and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department also have special plans in place.
Sheriff John Rutherford has ordered additional patrols on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and extra deputies will be placed in areas "historically prone to vandalism."
In addition, between three and five extra deputies will look for impaired drivers throughout the county, using grant funding from the Governor's Highway Safety Program specifically for Drunk Driving Prevention.
Kanawha Capt. Sean Crosier said in an email, "In the past eight years, vandalism and other mischievous acts have been kept to a minimum."
In most municipalities, trick-or-treat hours will be 6 to 8 p.m.
Drivers should be on the lookout for trick-or-treaters on Halloween, particularly in residential areas. AAA said in a press release that drivers should avoid neighborhood shortcuts, slow down, watch for children in the street and make sure to have a sober driver.
"On Halloween, motorists need to be especially vigilant between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight, when pedestrians are most vulnerable," said AAA District Office Supervisor Christina Rollyson.
AAA also said parents and children can take steps to increase visibility and safety, including wearing bright colors or reflective tape, carrying a flashlight, reviewing traffic safety rules with children, using face paint instead of masks and accompanying young trick-or-treaters.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.