Warren urges caution for drivers, trick or treaters

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published October 23, 2020

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WARREN — Halloween is supposed to be a scary-fun time, but city officials are asking residents to be wary of real-life dangers.

“I’m getting complaints about speeding, crime, shootings, ATVs and dirt bikes overrunning neighborhoods and parks,” Warren City Councilman Garry Watts said. “The complaints are crazy. I’m hearing a lot on social media about it, as well as phone calls.”

A Warren Police Department crackdown on reckless driving, abandoned vehicles and chronic neighborhood concerns is currently underway and is expected to peak and become a “key focus” around Halloween on Oct. 31, according to a release from the office of Warren Mayor Jim Fouts. The effort reportedly kicked off earlier this month.

He said the community policing effort would involve more uniformed officers on patrol in neighborhoods and more interaction between police and residents. Warren officers assigned to “directed patrol” operations would be tasked with responding to neighborhood complaints.

“One fact is clear: residents want to see more police patrols in neighborhoods,” Fouts said. “I have always prided myself on being the ‘neighborhood mayor,’ and I hear their concerns.”

Watts has taken to posting a “Driving with Councilman Garry Watts” segment on social media to share neighborhood concerns of his own. He’s questioned a reduced level of public safety staffing in the past, something he said remains a concern as the city moves through its 2020-21 fiscal year.

Fouts said overtime would be used to put the community policing plan in place to supplement a shortage of new officers due to retirements and hiring complications related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“My fear with the overtime is we’re gonna burn people out,” Watts said. “They’re already working 12-hour shifts.”

He said he’d discussed plans with city officials about hiring “pre-certified” police officers with experience at other agencies, which he said could speed up the process.

In the meantime, Watts said he’s looking forward to seeing more officers on the street. While he said he hadn’t seen or heard of any additional enforcement in action as of Oct. 21, he said scofflaws should be wary.

“We’re going to put a stop to it. We’re not going to have lawlessness in our neighborhoods,” Watts said.

Have a safe Halloween
Beyond warning drivers to stay safe and pledging to address other everyday neighborhood issues, the Warren mayor’s office issued guidance for kids heading out to trick-or-treat on Halloween, given the ongoing concerns over COVID-19. The guidelines included social distancing and masks for trick-or-treaters and observers; distributing candy on an elevated table, platform or box away from the home’s entrance; and using individual bags to safely distribute candy.