Police are bracing for what could be one of the busiest Halloween nights in memory. With the holiday falling on a Friday night, the forecast for good weather and increased MBTA service, thousands of people — possible hundreds of thousands — will pour into the Witch City on the big night.
Police are bracing for what could be one of the busiest Halloween nights in memory.
With the holiday falling on a Friday night, the forecast for good weather and increased MBTA service, thousands of people — possible hundreds of thousands — will pour into the Witch City on the big night. Police and city officials are taking many steps to keep the treats numerous and the tricks few.
“It kind of promotes mischief,” said Capt. Brian Gilligan of the Halloween holiday. Gilligan is one of a few police leaders organizing a force of about 250 officers, even more than last year.
The police on hand come from Salem, the North Shore and Boston. There will be officers on motorcycles, bicycles and ATVs. As with last year, some officers, who have been trained, will have pepper-ball guns, batons and other weapons. There will be tactical teams, mounted police, surveillance cameras, undercover officers and more in each of the five divisions of the city that are part of the Haunted Happenings action.
The five divisions allow police to divide resources wisely among the hotspots of the holiday.
“Each commander has, in effect, a miniature police department under his control,” Gilligan said at a public safety briefing this week. Each of the divisions will communicate throughout the night with the special dispatch operation set up on the second floor of the police station.
The city has worked closer with the MBTA this year, said Mayor Kim Driscoll, and they will be able to help visitors understand the new rules of behavior as well as where to go and how to get there.
The City Council approved a measure that will assess higher fines through Nov. 2 to anyone found committing misdemeanors like public drinking, littering, vandalism, graffiti and public urination. The city can collect up to $300 for these charges, and officials hope it will give visitors a disincentive to act up.
It’s a way for police to show the city means business without filling the jail cells, Gilligan explained.
The city also got downtown stores to agree not to sell “nips,” the small bottles of alcohol that police say make it too easy for people — especially young, inexperienced drinkers — to become intoxicated and unruly.
Police ask that people leave their weapons at home — fake or real — no matter how great they make a costume look. It’s something officers contend with every year.
The event finale will be part of the crowd control again this year. The fireworks were successful in signaling the end of the event last year, said Gilligan. This year there is also a sound and light show to help draw people into one area where police can afterward lead them to leave.