River Region authorities preach Halloween safety

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Many parents’ everyday safety concerns are compounded on holidays such as Halloween, when children are often around large crowds, including many strangers.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said the keys to safe trick-or-treating Friday night are supervising your children closely and inspecting the candy and other treats they bring home before letting them dig in.

In case a child gets separated from their parents, Tregre said it is a good idea to secure emergency identification — including name, address and phone number — discreetly within costumes or on a bracelet.

During trick-or-treating, Tregre said a parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children.

Lt. Gordon Jeffcoat, a 13-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Office, said parents should also be on the lookout for houses in St. John Parish marked with specials signs alerting trick-or-treaters a sex offender lives there.

Jeffcoat said he created a system a couple years ago for identifying houses where registered sex offenders live so children would not approach those homes for Halloween.

He said on Halloween night officers will patrol the parish to make sure the signs are displayed prominently on doors or windows of the offenders’ homes.

One Halloween event in St. John Parish offered as a safe and fun trick-or-treating alternative is Walgreens Pharmacy’s Halloween in the Park.

From 5 – 7 p.m. Thursday, Walgreens will host its annual event at Cambridge Park, located at 601 Colony Park Drive in LaPlace, with free hotdogs, chips, drinks and candy bags. Flu shots, blood pressure checks, a spacewalk, fire trucks and police finger printing will also be offered.

In St. James Parish, Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said measures are being taken to protect young trick-or-treaters against the parish’s approximately 49 registered sex offenders.

“We do the best we can in making sure sex offenders live where they tell us, so it is crucial that our citizens visit our website, stjamessheriff.com, to see who the registered sex offenders are and where they are living,” Martin said.

He said “mapping and address features found on the website pinpoint exactly where an offender lives,” and another website feature allows residents to sign up for automatic email notifications informing a resident if an offender moves within a specified radius of any address you register.

Martin said sex offenders in St. James Parish will also have a sign placed on their doors by Sheriff’s Office Personnel prior to trick-or-treating, which has official hours of 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed sex offenders in St. Charles Parish will also have signs displayed at their residences.