VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Halloween falling on a weekend could mean big trouble for local first responders. It’s expected to be a very busy night for firefighters, 911 call-takers and of course police.
One of the biggest challenges facing officers is dealing with the huge groups of people congregating on school grounds and in parks. On Halloween, police tend to get a lot of fireworks-related calls, assaults and mischief reports.
The regular call volume for a Saturday night in Vancouver is about 700 but Constable Brian Montague expects that to double tonight and he’s pleading for people to use common sense.
“It’s going to keep our officers very busy. We have staffed extra members to deal with that call volume but hopefully we’ll get a little bit of help from the public that people will use some common sense before they’re using their fireworks, before they’re using their illegal fireworks or firecrackers so we don’t have to attend those calls in the first place. We don’t want to have to go to the arsons; we don’t want to have to go to the injuries that are caused by misadventure.”
Montague explains young kids aren’t the only ones to blame for these calls. “The message is to parents to have conversations with their kids and not just young kids but older kids and even adult kids — kids in their 20s and 30s. We do see individuals that clearly aren’t making rational decisions when they’re out on Halloween night and they’re not always the 14 and 15-year-olds, sometimes it’s the 20 and 30-year-olds that are making the poor decisions.”
As he mentioned, pyrotechnics are often a big issue and just in time for Halloween, the VPD busted a guy earlier this week with about $10,000 worth of illegal fireworks in his van.
“Before they light that bottle rocket or light that Roman candle and point it at someone’s house, we hope they think that it’s not a smart idea and that they think twice before doing that. We had a fire on Thursday night that resulted in someone’s home being burnt down. It’s probably about $500,000 worth of damage, three people are now homeless and all because of three individuals who decided to make some poor choices.”
“Every year we see it, unfortunately. We have people who blow off fingers. We had a woman two years ago who lost an eye as a result of somebody set off a bottle rocket in her face. These are preventable and totally avoidable.”
Montague also has a suggestion if your costume involves a fake weapon.
“The fact that call volume is often driven by individuals who aren’t making smart decisions. They’re the calls of the man with the hatchet, the man with the knife or the man with the gun who has decided to wave part of his Halloween costume in the middle of the street, instead of keeping it in a bag until he gets to the party he’s going to.”
A rule you’ve heard repeated before applies to tonight’s festivities — if you see or hear something out of the ordinary then call the cops.
“Obviously we don’t people calling in for every bump in the night, but if it’s suspicious we want to make sure we check it out. We much rather check things out and confirm that there is nothing to it, then deal with the aftermath of a serious crime.”