Agencies put plans in place for Halloween

COVINGTON - Friday night is sure to be filled with ghosts and goblins roaming the streets, and local law enforcement will be there to make sure it's all in good, clean - and safe - fun.

Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton said his department does not anticipate any activity out of the ordinary this year and will approach Halloween enforcement the way they have in the past.

"We're not going to do anything special other than extra patrols and to have our officers stay in the neighborhoods where the children are more concentrated," Cotton said.

Cotton said Halloweens have been quiet in the city for the past several years, particularly since the Trunk or Treat event has been offered on the Square. The event is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m.Friday and is hosted by First Baptist Church of Covington.

Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols said the Sheriff's Office will also have extra patrols on the roads Friday night.

"We'll get the third shift to come in early and the day shift to stay over," Nichols said. "We're going to aggressively enforce traffic laws, speed laws especially, in subdivisions and residential areas."

In Rockdale County, Sheriff Jeff Wigington said he too will assign extra officers on Halloween to patrol areas where heavy trick-or-treating activity is expected.

"Typically we have School Resource Officers and courthouse deputies who come out and work and are often assigned to several subdivisions," Wigington said.

Generally, the patrols are there to make sure kids can safely walk around their neighborhoods on their quest for candy, but also they will be on hand to make sure pranksters don't get out of control and turn to vandalism or other criminal behaviors in their zeal to have fun.

Wigington said he does not expect any more problems than usual, even with Halloween falling on a Friday this year.

"The weekend makes it go a little longer, but only because kids don't have school the next day," he said.

Conyers officials have opted again to limit traffic in Olde Town during peak trick-or-treating hours. Jennifer Harper, spokeswoman with the city, said from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, police will limit through-traffic on Main Street, from Peek Street to College Avenue. College Avenue from Main Street to Milstead Avenue will also be closed.

While local officials will be on guard to make sure young people enjoy trick-or-treating, AAA urges all drivers on the road to take extra precautions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the number of motor vehicle fatalities on Halloween rises an average of 30 percent to 151 deaths when Oct. 31 is on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, compared to other days of the week.

"With Halloween falling on a Friday this year, the traffic dangers are that much greater because of the increase in the mix of children, pedestrians and motorists on the road," Leticia Messam, manager of traffic safety programs with AAA Auto Club South, said in a written release. "Historic data shows a more-than-minimal increase in the number of fatalities and injuries when Halloween occurs on a weekend. Both pedestrians and motorists need to take special measures to ensure the safety of everyone."

Executive Editor Alice Queen contributed to this article.

Aimee Jones can be reached at aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.