On Monday, the streets of Lawrence will be flooded with trick-or-treaters dressed in their finest spooky attire. With Halloween just a few days away, the Journal-World reached out to the Lawrence Police Department for suggestions on how to stay safe while out and about during the holiday.
Here, Sgt. Amy Rhoads shares her tips for steering clear of the truly scary stuff (more on that later) and having fun.
Debating whether or not to accompany your kids on their rounds this Halloween? While Rhoads recommends chaperones for children 12 and under, she says older kids are generally mature enough to trick-or-treat without parental supervision.
“If they do that, we would encourage them to pair up with a buddy or a group, and give their parents an idea of what neighborhoods they’ll be in,” Rhoads says.
Try to avoid neighborhoods without sufficient street lighting, she suggests, and always carry a flashlight or glow stick with you (or reflective gear, if it doesn’t clash with your costume, of course) to keep motorists alert.
“Accidents definitely occur on nights that kids are out trick-or-treating,” Rhoads says.
Because streets are typically more traffic-packed than usual on Halloween, it’s especially important on this night to use sidewalks and crosswalks, she adds. Rhoads offers the same advice to adults planning on hitting the bars and Halloween parties this weekend.
Be aware of your surroundings, she says, and exercise responsible behavior.
Once the kids are home, take a look at the contents of their candy bags, Rhoads suggests. Urban legends of razor blades and rat poison being discovered in Halloween candy have been largely debunked in the years since Rhoads was a kid, but it’s always a good idea to exercise caution, she says.
“As a parent, peek through and make sure nothing’s suspicious looking,” she advises. “I would never let my kids take something that’s unwrapped.”
And try not to worry about clowns. While other police departments across the country have seen violent incidents reported with people dressed as clowns, Lawrence has yet to experience any clown-related criminal activity, Rhoads says.
That being said, it never hurts to exercise caution.
“On Halloween, if you encounter something that makes you feel unsafe or a situation where you could be put in danger or your child could be put in danger, we encourage you to call us,” she says.
Rhoads also suggests mapping out a safe route with kids before they head out for the night. One resource worth checking out is the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s offender registration database, which allows site users to see how many sex offenders live within a certain radius of their home — or any specific address, for that matter.
For the record, there are apparently 19 sex offenders living within a one-mile radius of the Journal-World’s offices at 645 New Hampshire St., according to the database. Expanding that radius by just another mile more than doubles the number of sex offenders.