By Skyler Ashley
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter
DEWITT — As Halloween rapidly approaches, DeWitt begins its preparations. Given its reputation as a more raucous holiday and its placement on a Saturday, how does this affect things around town?
“What’s different about Halloween, is really just the amount of people on the street. By trick-or-treating hours [6 p.m. to 8 p.m.] it’s getting dark and nasty out, so we put an extra officer out just because of all the extra traffic,” Dewitt Chief of Police Bruce Ferguson said.
The DeWitt Police Department does not send out all of its employed officers on Halloween; two have been found to be ample.
“That’s fully-staffed for us, we’re only two-and-a-half square miles. It’s all residential streets and neighborhoods,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said that for a DeWitt police officer, Halloween work truly begins Friday afternoon with the release of the school kids excited for the holiday. By Saturday, the officers are fully ready.
The town also keeps its citizens updated via Facebook and a newsletter that is sent by email and posted on the City of Dewitt’s website. In general, people have enough information to be prepared for the seasonal event.
Yet, Halloween’s dubious association with vandalism and mischief must be considered. Does it ever get truly out of hand in DeWitt?
Ferguson does not have major concerns about the safety of DeWitt’s citizens or its property.
The DeWitt Township Police Department’s 2014 Report’s recap of major crimes didn’t include anything serious for the month of October at all.
Chris Melde, an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, couldn’t speak of high crime rate spikes during Halloween either.
A boiling over of serious crime this Halloween in DeWitt would be circumstantial, not a symptom of an observed trend.
“There’s always that call, people using eggs on somebody’s house, a practical joke like that. Breaking pumpkins, knocking over decorations,” Ferguson said.
The police chief was firm that serious crime, outside of the realm of minor vandalism, is not a trend that DeWitt deals with during Halloween.
Local businesses are also making preparations, as the holiday does see an increase of people out on the streets looking to celebrate.
Terranova’s Party Store, located downtown, expects extra business.
“Generally, it’s gonna fall on a Saturday, so we are gonna be a little busier than usual. I’m anticipating some parties, sure, people will be throwing adult parties, so we’ll be a little busy,” owner Fonz Toma said.
Toma has experienced no problems during the Halloween season, calling DeWitt a “responsible town with responsible people.” Toma, a parent, also added that DeWitt was “absolutely” safe for the children going out trick-or-treating.
Family Tree Café, located on the same street as Terra nova’s, has made similar preparations and observations.
Manager Tim Tyler said, “We’re gonna have something special for the kids, definitely decorations. We’ll have little goodie bags for the trick-or-treaters who come downtown.”
Like Toma, Tyler expressed little worry for safety concerns.
“Dewitt is safe, absolutely. I have no concerns in that area at all.” Tyler said.