Halloween is coming up fast in Reno, and while the holiday is seen as a night of fun, safety is still a concern for University Police Services.
“We look at Halloween from a standpoint of safety more so than crime,” says Todd Renwick, Assistant Director of Police Services at UNR.
Student well-being is a top priority for Police Services on Halloween, but crime is still a factor concerning all levels of the university population.
“There are [potential criminals] already in the perfect position to conceal their identity with a mask or a face paint,” Renwick said.
Students are also afraid of this possibility.
“I feel like it’s very easy to get mugged or robbed on Halloween because it’s very natural for people to be wearing costumes,” said Austin Daly, a freshman at UNR.
Several factors, from parties and alcohol to drunk drivers, contribute to the holiday’s potential danger.
“Halloween’s a moving target,” Renwick said. “The timing of it is right.”
Parties are one of the biggest potential risks around Halloween. University Police Services is most concerned with consumption above all other matters around Halloween.
“We’re not dealing with little kids trick-or-treating. We have a demographic…going to parties,” Renwick said.
Alcohol is normally present at the parties around campus, and with alcohol comes potential endangerment.
“We’re gonna be out looking for it,” Renwick said. Events for Halloween have already occurred in Reno, including the Zombie Crawl on Saturday, Oct. 21. Reno police arrested 22 people—including three felony arrests—and cited nine businesses for serving alcohol to underage drinkers. The businesses were fined $500.Pedestrian safety is also a major concern on Halloween.
According to a 2014 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian crash fatalities increased on average by 12.4 percent on Halloween night compared to the annual pedestrian crash fatalities percentage.
Additionally, a 2012 study revealed one in three pedestrians involved in a fatal crash had blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher, an illegal level for drivers in all States.
“You’re not going to be able to stop people from going out,” said Amanda Rust, a resident adviser at the Nevada Living Learning Community. “The most we can do is tell them to be safe.”
Campus police increase safety measures to make sure students are safe during the holiday. Extra patrols are issued through October. Campus Police also works alongside the Reno Police Department in order to ensure the highest level of safety possible. Additionally, other authority figures outside Campus Police are extensively trained to better the lives of UNR students.
“It’s a matter of being on hyper-alert for residents,” Rust said.
While Halloween has its potential risks, it’s still a night to have fun.
“Go and enjoy Halloween, but be wise about it,” Renwick said.
Benjamin Engel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.