Police calls rise during Halloween

Costumes make it hard for officers to identify possible suspects



Pullman Police Department Cmdr. Jake Opgenorth said a DUI accident was allegedly caused by a man dressed as Superman. He said a bystander dressed as a mummy helped administer first aid to the injured victims.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

The number of police calls rises during Halloween and the presence of costumes can lead to memorability and confusion for the Pullman Police Department and the WSU Police Department.

Pullman PD Cmdr. Jake Opgenorth said the department prepares for a higher volume of calls. He said more officers are patrolling during each shift.

There were 50 calls on Oct. 31, 2018, 49 calls in 2017 and 43 calls in 2016, according to the Pullman Police Logs.

Opgenorth said officers patrol residential neighborhoods during early afternoon on Halloween. He said officers watch traffic and make sure children are trick-or-treating safely.

During Halloween night, officers will patrol high activity areas. He said Halloween parties are often the source of noise complaints and other incidents.

Two arrests were made on Oct. 31, 2018, according to the logs. Four calls were made for noise complaints and disorderly conduct. Officers responded to two car accidents, one of which was a hit and run, according to the logs.

Five noise complaints were made on Oct. 31, 2017, according to the logs. Three arrests were made. Two car accidents occurred. Officers also responded to a call of disorderly conduct incident where 12 people were about to fight, according to the log.

From Oct. 31, 2016 to 1 a.m. on Nov. 1, nine parking related calls were made, according to the log. Five arrests were made, some of which were because of alcohol offenses.

Two noise complaints and three incidents of malicious mischief were reported, according to the logs. Officers and the Pullman Fire Department responded to a report of a possible fire. There was also one report for public urination just after midnight on Nov. 1.

Steve Hansen, WSU PD assistant chief, said the department increases patrol around residence halls and WSU apartment complexes. He said the increase in patrolling helps officers ensure the safety of people walking to and from the residence halls.

He said it is common to have people who drank too much alcohol walk back to their residence from a party.

“We just want to make sure people have a safe event and drink responsibly,” he said.

Opgenorth said Halloween nights are similar to home football games.

“We’re dealing with the same situations, but people are dressed up in their Halloween costumes,” he said. “It’s a little bit more memorable.”

Opgenorth said he responded to a DUI accident and the driver who had allegedly caused the accident was dressed as Superman.

“There was a person injured in the car, and a [bystander] that was dressed up as a mummy came up to help provide first aid,” he said. “That was kinda ironic since [the bystander] was covered in bandages.”

Opgenorth said another officer responded to a similar incident where some of the passengers involved were thrown from the car during the crash. He said it was a bad accident.

“Officers arrived and [the passengers] were laying outside of the car. They were struggling to get up and they were dressed up as zombies,” he said. “Here are these people outside of the car, and suddenly they are rising from the ground like zombies.”

Hansen said the description provided by reporting parties are funny because people are wearing costumes. He said this can also lead to some confusion for the responding officers.

“Someone is trying to report that an event happened and the description is that some costumed person did something,” he said. “So we go and look for them and then all of a sudden there’s five people dressed in the same costume described.”

He said costumes can make it difficult to identify possible suspects.

“Some [costumes] are pretty elaborate,” he said. “Some are just like an old-fashioned sheet over the head – they’re going as Casper the Ghost.”

Hansen said some costumes can also lead to misleading reports. He said bloody costumes are often the source for some unfounded reports.

“We get a call reporting an injured person, and when we respond that’s just a costume. [It’s] supposed to look that way,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this person got beat up and they’re bloodied and walking down the street,’ and it’s just a costume.”

Hansen said people can have fun and still drink responsibly.

“Go out there. Have fun, and be safe,” Hansen said.