NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Between the fun costumes and the free candy, Halloween seems like one of the best days of the year for children, but it’s also one of the most dangerous, which is why Middle Tennessee law enforcement agencies are stepping up to keep kids safe.
The following three police departments not only plan to assign extra officers to patrol neighborhoods on Monday, Oct. 31, but they also provided some valuable advice so community members can do their part to protect kids on Halloween:
With a number of fall festivals and Halloween parties taking place over the weekend and on Monday, the Clarksville Police Department encouraged everyone to take extra precautions since so many children will be out and about.
In order to keep community members safe, the department said additional officers would be working on Halloween, focusing on patrolling neighborhoods during the trick-or-treating period, which usually lasts from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. After that, police plan to shift their focus toward impaired drivers and traffic violations.
Authorities shared the following tips to make sure kids stay safe on Halloween:
- Young children should be accompanied by either an adult or someone else who is capable and responsible.
- Motorists need to be cautious and slow down because children tend to caught up in the excitement and run from door to door — and occasionally into the streets.
- Not only should costumes feature some type of reflective material, but children should also have a flashlight or glow sticks for visibility.
- Remind children not to enter a stranger’s home and not to eat any candy until a responsible adult can make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Then, if you see something suspicious, call 911 to report it.
According to the La Vergne Police Department, there will be additional officers out on patrol on Monday to make sure everyone has a safe evening. While the city does not regulate Halloween activities, trick-or-treating typically starts around sunset and goes until about 9 p.m. on Oct. 31
Police recommended trick-or-treaters travel in groups, carry glow sticks or flashlights, and use reflective tape or stickers on costumes and bags. In addition, adults are urged accompany kids under the age of 12 and to check candy for signs of tampering before allowing them to eat anything.
As for drivers, they are asked to be extra cautious in neighborhoods and to watch for kids and families crossing the street.
“We’ll have extra patrols out on Halloween night, not only watching out for our trick-or-treaters but watching our drivers to make sure they follow the speed limit,” said La Vergne Chief Chip Davis. “The speed limit is 25 MPH in our residential neighborhoods, but on Halloween, we’re asking drivers to be extra cautious and cut your speed in half. A lot of kids and families will cross the street in unexpected places, so you must be vigilant when you’re driving.”
Police also emphasized the importance of trick-or-treaters knowing their parent or guardian’s phone number, as well as their home address, in case they get separated or lost.
“Take some time to teach your kids to keep themselves safe, too,” Deputy Chief Brent Hatcher said. “Stay on familiar roads and never go into a stranger’s home or car. Kids who are trick-or-treating unaccompanied should also spend a few minutes to make a plan with their parents or guardians to make sure they don’t get lost.”
Additional examples of Halloween etiquette include not approaching homes with their lights off, only taking one or two pieces of candy from unattended bowls, not handing out homemade treats, and having special treats available for kids with food allergies or dietary restrictions.
The Mt. Juliet Police Department said safety will be a top priority as officers deploy to neighborhoods on Halloween to keep them safe while trick-or-treaters are out on Monday.
“This effort is quite the tradition for the department, where patrol staffing is tripled, so neighborhoods have a visible police presence to ensure all have a safe, enjoyable time,” authorities said.
Mt. Juliet’s police headquarters, which is at 1019 Charlie Daniels Parkway, will also be open for trick-or-treating from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday.
If you need to report any problems, observations, or safety concerns, you can call police at 615-754-2550 for non-emergencies or 911 for emergencies.
“Mt. Juliet’s residents are also a huge part of what keeps Mt. Juliet’s streets as safe as possible,” the department said. “Any unsafe mischief or driving behavior should be reported to the police department immediately so it can be stopped.”
According to authorities, the most significant risk to a child on Halloween involves being hit by a vehicle, which is why officers on patrol will hand out reflective bands and LED glow sticks to kids.
Safe Kids Worldwide said children are twice as likely to be in a deadly pedestrian crash on Oct. 31 than any other day of the year for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- Kids often choose to take the shortest route instead of the safest route, such as darting out between parked cars rather than crossing at corners.
- Kids are bad at evaluating potential traffic threats.
- Kids are not only more likely to disregard their peripheral vision, but they are also less attentive to their street surroundings.
- Kids tend to believe they’re indestructible and are more likely to take risks.
- Kids need to be told that some drivers will not slow down for them.
- Kids can’t cross streets as quickly as adults.
- Kids may be distracted by other kids’ costumes, behaviors, and home decorations.
Officers also plan on monitoring parking on city streets, so both visitors and residents are encouraged not to block the roadway when they park.
In addition, officials said police will be out monitoring sex offenders, adding that Tennessee law prohibits any sex offender on parole or probation from participating in any Halloween activity involving children, including leaving a porch light on, answering the door, or distributing candy.
Parents are encouraged to check the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry while planning your trick-or-treating route so you can keep your family safe.
For more Halloween health and safety tips, click here.