Anna Harley Quinn, 6, and brother, Kosta, 3, are spooked...

Anna Harley Quinn, 6, and brother, Kosta, 3, are spooked by a ghoul at the Haunted Hangar Halloween Party at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale on Saturday. Credit: Linda Rosier

With Halloween expected to return to normal in this second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Suffolk County officials say police will be stepping up patrols on Sunday in an effort to keep children safe.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone joined Suffolk acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron at a news conference Saturday at the Fourth Precinct in Hauppauge to discuss precautions the county is taking to protect children on Halloween.

Last Halloween the pandemic led Suffolk police to enforce capacity guidelines at restaurants and other establishments, and to break up large parties. County officials recommended at the time that people stay at home and try virtual events to stop the spread of the virus. Despite this, Bellone said COVID cases spiked after Halloween weekend.

Bellone said on Saturday he welcomed the return of a more traditional Halloween because of the availability of vaccines.

"We are in a very different place than where we were last year," Bellone said, adding that roughly 74% of Suffolk County residents have had at least one vaccine shot. "This certainly has the feel of a much more normal Halloween and holiday, and we want to make sure that kids can be out there and enjoying trick-or-treating as safely as possible and we want residents to know that the police department will be out there in force to ensure that."

Suffolk acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron, left, and Suffolk County...

Suffolk acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron, left, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announce public safety measures for Halloween at the Fourth Precinct in Hauppauge on Saturday. Credit: Morgan Campbell

However, the holiday’s return is accompanied by concerns over increased pedestrian foot traffic and protecting children from dangers such as sex offenders.

Bellone issued several recommendations for people out trick-or-treating with children on Sunday. They include:

  • Children should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Stay on the sidewalks.
  • Only cross streets at the corners or crosswalks.
  • Wear reflective materials after dark.

With more people expected to be walking around trick-or-treating, Bellone encouraged drivers to stay alert to avoid hitting children or adults. Bellone added that motorists who drive under the influence should "be prepared to face the consequences" as police are expected to be out in force Sunday.

Cameron said the police department would be deploying both uniformed and plainclothes officers in both marked and unmarked cars, including from the Precinct Crime Section and its Community Support and Marine bureaus.

Police will be checking on sex offenders in various neighborhoods countywide, Cameron said. Detectives from the Special Victims Unit will work with the county Probation Department "to make sure the sex offenders obey the conditions of their probation and they’re exactly where they should be," he said.

Police will be focusing on traffic and encouraged people to respect the safety of others and "make good choices" when going out, he added.

"If they don’t, they will be held accountable by the Suffolk County Police Department and the consequences can be substantial," Cameron said.

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