Area homes and businesses will be under the watchful eyes of community volunteers on both “Gate Night" and Halloween again this year as "Operation Pumpkin” sends out its annual patrols.
OPP Cst. Phil Donald, who is co-ordinating this year’s effort, is expecting close to 20 volunteers from 10 area businesses to show up to do their part in helping keep an eye on crime on what could be labelled two of the more mischievous nights of the year.
“Traditionally what has occurred is that various businesses and individuals have assisted [the police] with patrols, alerting us to indications of criminal activities,” Cst. Donald said yesterday, noting particular attention will be focused on youth out after dark.
“It is a community policing effort that started five years ago and it’s really worked good,” he added.
Volunteers for “Operation Pumpkin” are slated to meet tomorrow and Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the OPP detachment here, where they will get a rundown on the rules and regulations involved in their duties.
“They will get an overview of the areas of patrol, responsibilities and how to communicate any problem areas to the dispatch centres,” Cst. Donald explained.
He reiterated that volunteers would not be intervening at the scene of a potential crime. Rather, they will be under instruction to report it to authorities.
“They will be asked to sit and watch and, if they can, record what they see,” he added.
Cst. Donald also urged anyone who witnesses a possible crime taking place to not call the local OPP office. Instead, all calls to police must be channelled through the OPP dispatch in Kenora at 1-888-310-1122.
“[Do that] and a police car will get there as soon as possible,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Cst. Donald reminded parents and children to check Halloween candy before consuming it, paying special attention to wrappers which look altered.
“Be particularly aware of sharp sticks in candy apples," he added. "Parents can [even] cut up their children’s candy to make sure there are no foreign bodies within [it].”
Cst. Donald did note area children have been very fortunate in past years as there have been virtually no reports to police of Halloween candy or sweets being tampered.