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Troubled times call for extra caution

Warnings to protect the safety of Halloween trick-or-treaters are more likely to strike a chord with people this year, authorities say.

By RYAN DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 31, 2001


The Pasco County Sheriff's Office expects people to pay more attention than usual to its annual trick-or-treat warnings because of the real horrors of the past two months.

"This is not just because of the current times," sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said, referring to the terrorist attacks. "This would be a real good year for parents to do what law enforcement encourages them to do every year: Stay in the neighborhood."

But some of the warnings, which were issued Tuesday, were heightened from the standard precautions. Among the stricter warnings: Go along with your kids, Powers said.

"If the kids are too old to have parents go with them, then they're too old to trick-or-treat," he said.

Extra deputies will patrol the county from 5 to 11 tonight, officials said. Deputies will ride on bikes and in helicopters, marked and unmarked patrol cars. They will watch for traffic that could endanger trick-or-treaters as well as vandalism and other potential dangers.

Three of Pasco's four police departments -- Dade City, New Port Richey and Port Richey -- also will have the standard extra Halloween patrols.

"In light of everything that's happening, I don't expect there's going to be a lot of people letting their kids out, but we'll be out there," said Lt. Bill Sager of the Port Richey police.

Police also said they expect help from residents.

"I think everybody's going to have a heightened sense of being more careful," said Capt. Darryl Garman of the New Port Richey Police Department.

Zephyrhills is the only city that won't have extra police on patrol, but officials there issued warnings like those from the Sheriff's Office.

Among the sheriff's other warnings: have parents inspect the candy, wear reflective tape, set a time to be home, be careful with wigs around fire, never go inside a house and carry a flashlight.

"Most of the safety things are common sense," Powers said.

-- Staff writer Brady Dennis contributed to this report.

-- Ryan Davis is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavis@sptimes.com.

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