Amid all the costume parties, bar hops and trick-or-treating Halloween has to offer, area police departments will be keeping a sharp eye on the public.
Tempe Police has strictly enforced out-of-control parties and alcohol-related crimes this year, with operations such as Safe and Sober at the beginning of the semester netting hundreds of arrests around Tempe for people driving under the influence.
This Halloween weekend will likely stay the course.
Tempe Police Public Information Officer Molly Enright said the department will be increasing patrol operations looking for DUIs and alcohol-related crimes.
“We have people celebrating, (and) we want them to come to Tempe and have a great time, but the statistics also demonstrate that impaired driving significantly rises during those times,” she said.
Enright said the department received a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to increase the number of officers on the street and to bring in help from other departments around the Valley.
“Tempe Police is the lead agency, and we requested our partners to come in as we always do,” Enright said. “We’ll be multiagency … Mesa Police, Scottsdale Police and the (Department of Public Safety) will be assisting us.”
The department will have a command post set up at the Tempe Fire Training Facility on East University Drive from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. starting Thursday.
There, officers will take and process those arrested during the campaign, Enright said.
“Where we set up the command post is where we can do our processing,” she said. “It’s also a place for the officers to brief up prior to the task force starting.”
As with years past, Enright said the downtown area of Tempe is sure to be busy over the weekend.
“Typically there are about 10,000 people estimated to come down into the downtown area on Halloween,” she said.
Enright stressed that the operation is not just centered on the common hotspots of Tempe such as Mill Avenue but is a citywide effort.
“Our officers will be mobile. There will be officers in patrol vehicles, officers on bikes, mounted in the downtown area and then motor officers,” Enright said. “So you’ll see high visibility, especially in terms of the motorcycle officers as well as the patrol officers across the city.”
Enright said because this year’s Halloween falls on a Thursday, Tempe Police will continue DUI task force operations through Nov. 2.
“Any of the holidays which land on or around a weekend, the celebrations typically run through that weekend,” she said. “So Halloween being Thursday, people will be celebrating Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well.”
ASU Police will also be involved in increased patrols.
Assistant Police Chief Michael Thompson said the department will staff two additional officers on Halloween night, then on Friday and Saturday ASU officers will assist in Tempe Police’s party patrols.
“We’re increasing patrols,” Thompson said. “They will be out in the city of Tempe, around the University and assisting Tempe (Police).”
To help people stay safe, there are many different services available to students to help them avoid drinking and driving.
Metro Light Rail service will continue to run its normal schedule on Halloween.
Local taxi company Discount Cab also offers a free ride back program for people who have had too much to drink, spokeswoman Janelle Brannock said.
People can call the company for a ride home or to a friend’s house, the company gives them a redemption code and then the company will return them to their cars the next morning for free, she said.
“One of our Discount Cabs will drive you home safely, you pay for that ride,” Brannock said. “Then when you call to get your ride back to your car or wherever you left it. … You would give the dispatch number that code that was given to you, and you’d get the ride back to your car absolutely free.”
Enright said the DUI task force operation aims to keep the public safe during a time where there are enormous amounts of people walking around the streets of Tempe.
She said other ways to stay safe are to designate drivers, plan ahead and program taxi company numbers into cell phones ahead of time.
“A lot of families are trick-or-treating, people are excited (and) they’re out and about,” Enright said. “The main focus of this is for some additional resources … and we ask for pedestrians and bicyclists to watch out for cars.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @markjremillard
Correction: Because of a reporting error, a previous version of this article gave an incorrect number of ASU Police officers who will assist Tempe Police on Thursday.