Charles Co. Cops to Increase Patrols to Protect Halloween Trick-or-treaters

LA PLATA, Md. (October 19, 2011)—There may not be a shortage of zombies, princesses or zombie princesses this Halloween but rest assured there won’t be a shortage of Charles County Sheriff’s officers either.

The Sheriff’s Office will increase patrols of neighborhoods while costumed youngsters canvass the county for tricks and treats. In addition to the patrol officers on regular duty, the operation will include more than a dozen officers from the Community Policing Unit, School Resource Unit and Command Staff who will patrol in marked patrol cars, on bicycles and on foot.

“Increasing our patrols each Halloween is as much a tradition for us as trick-or-treating and candied apples are for the youngsters,” said Sheriff Rex Coffey. “Heightened visibility is a key crime deterrent but also ensures a quick response in the event a crime or other emergency occurs.”

Although the Sheriff’s Office does not designate an official time for Halloween celebrations to occur, the Agency recommends trick-or-treaters keep to the traditional Halloween time frame: 6-8 p.m. Some neighborhoods choose to host other Halloween celebrations but such festivities are coordinated and announced by the particular neighborhoods.

The Sheriff’s office is also sharing the following safety tips and encourages families to share them with trick-or-treaters before Halloween festivities begin:

For Trick-or-Treaters:

-- Young children should always trick-or-treat with an adult and older children should never trick-or-treat alone.
-- Be careful crossing the streets; cross at the corner and look both ways.
-- Stay to the side of the street or, where possible, on a sidewalk.
-- Only visit homes you know.
-- Do not eat candy that has not been inspected by a trusted adult or any homemade treats or unpackaged foods like fruit.
-- Never cut across yards or use alleys as short cuts.
-- Never accept food or drink from strangers.
-- Never enter a stranger’s home or car.
-- Only visit well-lit homes.
-- Carry a flashlight.
-- Make sure your costume has something reflective on it so you’re visible to passing motorists; that it is short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement and contact with flames; and that it is flame resistant. Remember to “Stop, Drop and Roll” if your costume catches fire.
-- Carry with you your emergency contact information.
-- Obey traffic signals.
-- Do not trick-or-treat past 8 p.m.

When Giving Candy:

-- Offer only wrapped or packaged candy.
-- Never give homemade treats. Not only are the ingredients not listed — a threat to children with food allergies — but parents are encouraged to discard them. Parents are also encouraged to discard any unpackaged foods — even fruit — so refrain from offering these.
-- Remember that children are going to get A LOT of candy. Don’t forget other possible gifts like crazy pencils, one-serving cereal boxes, stickers — and toothpaste!
-- Keep your lights on if you’re participating in the festivities and be sure to clear a safe path for trick-or-treaters. Remove items such as hoses and wet leaves to prevent falling and injury.

When Inspecting Candy:

-- Use your best judgment. Do not let children eat any homemade treats or unpackaged foods.
-- Make sure candy is tightly wrapped. If it looks like it was unwrapped and then re-wrapped, don’t let your children eat it.
-- Use caution but not paranoia.
-- When in doubt, throw it out.
-- If you believe your candy has been tampered with, call the Sheriff’s Office.

For Motorists:

-- Be cognizant of trick-or-treaters, pedestrians and pets as you drive through residential areas.
-- Stop at all crosswalks.
-- Remember, the posted speed limit is 25 mph through most residential areas, but that doesn’t mean you must drive that fast. Slow down, especially in areas with high pedestrian traffic.
-- As always, don’t drink and drive.

When inspecting candy, remember that some occurrences that raise questions about the quality of confectionary products are in fact normal, according to the National Confectioners Association. For example, what appears to be glass may just be large sugar or salt crystals and graying chocolate that resembles a light powder may be caused by exposure to heat or dampness. Such appearances should not be cause for concern but parents are urged to use their discretion. The association publishes a complete list of these occurrences in its Variations in Candy guide on its website:

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