City of Ukiah, California

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Staying Safe on Halloween

Halloween is not one of our police officers’ and dispatchers’ favorite holidays. In fact, it can be really a frightening night!

While it’s fun to see trick-or-treaters wearing their costumes, Halloween also brings out a mischievous spirit in some people, and it is this mischievousness that really taxes our department’s resources.

While our dispatchers frantically answer 911 calls and our police officers race from call to call to keep those mischievous spirits from hurting each other or someone else, it’s important to keep these safety tips in mind.

Replica Firearms

Parents should think carefully before allowing a toy weapon to be part of a costume. Toy guns, swords, or knives should only be allowed if it is obvious that they are, in fact, toys.

Replica firearms – those that are designed to look real – should be avoided completely.

Recently, a 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy was shot and killed after deputies repeatedly told him to put down what they believed to be an assault rifle. He was carrying a toy gun. It’s never a good idea to allow children to play with toys that can be mistaken for real weapons, but it is especially dangerous on Halloween when law enforcement officers are already on high alert.


If your children go trick-or-treating, please make sure a responsible adult is present.

Stick to neighborhoods you know and bring a flashlight. If the costume doesn’t have reflective properties, add reflective tape – this will help cars see children if they dart into the street.

If a mask obscures a child’s vision, have the child pull the mask on for the trick-or-treat moment, and then remove it to avoid trips or falls on poorly lit sidewalks.

And most importantly, after kids have collected their loot, an adult should inspect the candy and discard any that is unwrapped or appears to be tampered with.

Never Go Into a Home

Trick-or-Treaters (and the adults who supervise them) should not go inside a stranger’s home, even for a minute. Remain on the porch at all times. And, hopefully it goes without saying that children should never accept rides from strangers.


If you are the parent of a teenager, remember that even “good kids” can be mischievous from time to time, and Halloween is often that time. Parents should ask where their children are going and what their plans are.

Halloween shouldn’t be an excuse to vandalize homes with eggs or toilet paper, shoot paint ball guns at young trick-or-treaters, or perform other harmful pranks.

Safe Driving in Neighborhoods

Exercise extreme caution when driving a vehicle on Halloween after dark. Be on the alert for excited youngsters–whose vision may be obscured by masks–darting out into traffic.

Drive slowly and cautiously.

  • Look for children walking in the street, running across the street, or darting out between parked vehicles.
  • Be extra careful when entering and exiting driveways.
  • Avoid using your cell phone while driving because it will cause a distraction.
  • Play your music at a reasonable volume so you can listen for potential children crossing your path.

Drunk Driving

For young (and not-so-young) adults who attend parties where alcohol is served, be sure someone is identified as a designated driver for the evening, so everyone gets home safely.

Every 52 minutes on average, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash and every 90 seconds, someone is injured due to this entirely preventable crime. Our department always adds officers on Halloween night to keep our community safe, so if you drink and drive, don’t complain when we take you to jail.

Staying Safe at Home

For households who get into the holiday spirit of handing out candy, keep your porch light on and greet trick-or-treaters at the door. Do not allow strangers into your home for any reason, including going to the bathroom or making a phone call.

If you are a pet owner, remember that Halloween can be spooky for pets, too. Keep the family dog away from unfamiliar trick-or-treaters. Dogs may feel threatened, or think their owners are being threatened, and become aggressive. Avoid this by keeping pets away from the door.

If you do not welcome trick-or-treaters, be sure to turn off your porch light. This is the universal sign to children that they should not knock on your door on Halloween. If your porch light is on but there is no candy, pranksters may be tempted to respond inappropriately.

Some people use Halloween as an excuse to behave badly. We will enforce the law on Halloween as we do every other day of the year. If you are concerned that people are taking Halloween too far and putting themselves or others at risk, do not hesitate to report that activity to us. We would rather address a situation early than deal with damage after it’s done.

Please help us keep people in Ukiah safe on Halloween. Don’t drink and drive and, if you are a parent, use the tips above to ensure that Halloween is a safe, fun holiday for everyone.

As always, our department’s mission is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: 


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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service