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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2019

Watchful eyes of SFS ‘Pumpkin Patrols’ ready for fright night duty

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base San Antonio security forces squadrons will keep careful watch on Halloween to ensure the safety of trick-or-treaters as they go from door to door throughout the installation’s housing areas.

The squadrons deploy “Pumpkin Patrols” from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 31 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and 5-8 p.m. at JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph.

“Pumpkin Patrol is a Halloween safety initiative that enhances the safety of our trick-or-treaters,” said Tech. Sgt. Antonio Wiggins, 902nd SFS NCOIC of Operations and Police Services. “Even though our number one priority is safety, the goal of the Pumpkin Patrol is to ensure that the children and parents involved in trick-or-treating festivities have a fun, eventful night.”

At JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, all housing areas will be open for trick-or-treating, said Officer Brian Mitchem of 502nd SFS police services.

“We will get volunteers from the unit to come out and walk in housing during the trick-or-treating hours,” he said. “We will also have some patrols in certain areas in case anything happens.”

The 802nd SFS at JBSA-Lackland also plans a presence in the location’s housing areas, said Tech. Sgt. Gabriel Larrazabal, an Installation Security Team member.

Areas that will be covered are Frank Tejeda West at the training annex, LeMay adjacent to the golf course, Airman Scott Village/North Wherry across from the exchange, and Frank Tejeda East and North Skeet adjacent to the Balfour Beatty Communities management office.

The 902nd SFS Pumpkin Patrol will provide safety in JBSA-Randolph housing, Wiggins said.

“Due to the increased number of vehicles and pedestrians on Halloween, Airmen from the 902nd Security Forces Squadron will be out to enforce safety measures along with volunteers from different agencies on JBSA-Randolph,” he said. “With this program, volunteers become an additional set of eyes and ears for security forces. Even though there will be a presence of armed and unarmed SFS members to properly patrol the areas of interest, volunteers are trained on how to be vigilant of suspicious behavior.” 

Security forces spokesmen also offered safety advice to parents, trick-or-treaters and motorists.

Larrazabal advises parents to supervise their children at all times, recommending that they walk with them instead of watching from their vehicles; know the trick-or-treating hours; set a plan with their children, such as meeting places and times, and what to do if they are lost; and set sound guidelines for children who are old enough to be unsupervised.

Larrazabal’s advice for trick-or-treaters is to be aware of their surroundings and watch out for vehicles, only approach houses with porch lights on, stay on sidewalks, carry a flashlight or other source of light, and have an adult inspect their treats prior to consumption. He also said trick-or-treaters should not talk to strangers or accept vehicle rides from them.

Motorists should slow down in residential areas and obey all traffic signs and signals, Wiggins said.

“Drive at least 5 miles per hour below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street,” he said. “Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs because in dark costumes they’ll be harder to see at night. Also look for children crossing the street; they may not be paying attention to traffic and cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.”

Trick-or-treating is not the only way to enjoy Halloween. Alternative activities are also planned at JBSA locations.

The JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center, 3060 Stanley Road, will host the Exceptional Family Member Program’s Halloween Howl Down from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 25. The event will feature a haunted house, hay rides, face painting, trick-or-treating, bounce castles, food trucks, and games and prizes. Attendees can also learn about community resources.          

Another event at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is a haunted trail from 7-10 p.m. Oct. 26 at the golf course.

Lackland Youth Programs, building 8240, 2361 Selfridge Ave., will host its second annual Trunk or Treat from 6:45-8:15 p.m. Oct. 30. Vehicles will be parked as “trunks” to provide treats to children.

Randolph Youth Programs, buildings 584 and 585, Main Circle, will hold its annual Fall Hi-Jinx from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31. The event will feature games with prizes, face painting and costume contests.