Local law enforcement agencies are gearing up for Halloween and reminding citizens to be mindful of safety while enjoying the holiday.
Whether it's families trick-or-treating, others who will be going to parties or just plan to be out and about on Wednesday, Oct. 31, agency leaders said each person plays a role in creating a safe environment.
Grundy County Sheriff Terry Marketti said no matter the plans, families and motorists should be on alert for the day's anticipated increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
"I think everybody just needs to be careful," he said. "They need to realize you have kids out there who are very excited, and some can't see out of their costumes. Motorists just need to drive slow during trick-or-treat hours."
Additionally, drivers are encouraged to be on the lookout for children who could dart in front of cars at any moment and drive with caution. Adults attending parties should also make sure their vision isn't impaired by their costumes.
For trick-or-treaters, Marketti said an adult should always be with small children and older children should go in groups. Children should only approach familiar houses that are well-lit and avoid unlit houses. Parents are encouraged to take their children trick-or-treating when it is still light outside, and, if they don't, to bring a flashlight or glow stick along. Parents should also tell their children not to enter strangers' homes or cars.
He recommended parents ensure their children's costumes aren't so long they'll trip, and parents should consider having their children use make-up instead of masks, which can obscure vision and oncoming traffic. While light-colored clothing is recommended, parents can add reflective tape to dark costumes so that they are more visible. Flame resistant costumes are also encouraged.
Morris Police Department officials are also encouraging residents to know their route ahead of time, walk on the sidewalks instead of the street, and to ensure their child's costumes, shoes and treat bags, are all safe.
The department is giving out trick-or-treat bags for children, as supplies last. They can be picked up Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
After candy is collected, parents are encouraged to take a look through their children's goodies.
"We always tell the parents to inspect the candy before they let their kids eat it," Marketti said. "If it looks wrong, get rid of it."
He said it's rare, but it could happen.
"We've never had any that I'm aware of," he said. "We do have the contact with the National Confectioner's Association, and they can tell right off the bat if something's been tampered with."
He said obvious signs of tampering can include torn paper, or just candy that doesn't look right. Anyone with questions or believes items might be tainted or tampered with can call the sheriff's department at (815) 942-0336.
Marketti said a majority of the calls his personnel respond to involve mischief of some sort, from pranks and vandalism to trespassing at area cemeteries and schools. He said these areas will have increased surveillance and trespassing laws will be strictly enforced.
He said another large concern for personnel on the roads is impaired drivers, although he said since Halloween is midweek this year, a lot of parties tend to be on the weekend and days leading to it. He said deputies on patrol are anticipating an increase in impaired drivers and will enforce DUI laws.
To help curb crime and also keep an eye out for impaired drivers, Marketti is beefing up patrols with additional deputies and assigning detectives to area roads. He encouraged those with party plans to make sure they have a sober designated driver if they plan to drink alcohol.
In some years, Marketti said Halloween has been busy, but in recent years it's been "virtually nothing." Still, he said the department wants to make it clear that they're planning to be out and about.
"It's usually nothing major — the last years we've had quiet," he said. "I'm hoping this year will be the same, but we do prepare for it."
He said the department is hoping to ensure the holiday goes smoothly for people of all ages.
"We want it to be fun and safe for the little kids, and keep the big kids down to a slow roar," he said.