To: Wyckoff Parents, Residents and the Community at large
From: Benjamin C. Fox
Chief of Police
Re: An open letter regarding Goosey Night & Halloween
Whether you call it Goosey Night, Mischief Night, or Cabbage Night; the night before Halloween can present problems for residents and communities. The evening is one known for granting unofficial license for individuals to commit everything from acts of simple pranks to criminal behavior and vandalism. While some towns ponder curfews to control persons on the streets, the fact remains that the individuals capable of controlling such a situation are parents of children. If parents will commit to assuring that their child will not be allowed on the streets the night before Halloween, the level of incidents will decrease dramatically.
The overwhelming majority of all children are good individuals who would not be predisposed to damaging the property of someone else. However, the night before Halloween seems to give them permission to do things they would not otherwise do. During my 33 years as a police officer in this community, I have responded to many calls from residents on Goosey Night because they had a problem at their home. A few years ago I went to a house after the resident heard someone outside, only to find their carved jack-o-lantern pumpkin smashed in the street. I assume the kids that did this probably thought it was funny. They probably thought it was “ok to do”. Heck, it’s the night before Halloween, everyone does this. Besides, it’s just a pumpkin. Well, it’s NOT “just a pumpkin”. While speaking with the parents, they had their daughter with them. She was probably about 5 or 6 years old. She was crying. She was crying because the pumpkin that she picked out, the pumpkin that her Mom and Dad helped carve and was proudly lighted in front of their home; was now smashed in the street by some kids who thought it was, “funny”. Well, it’s NOT funny.
While there is probably a lack of respect for the feelings of other persons or their property at many levels in our society these days, let’s not use the night before Halloween to make it ok for the evening. The elderly person who has to clean their yard of the toilet paper in the trees the next day, the Mom who has to immediately wash the broken eggs off her car for fear that it will stain the paint, the Dad who has to find some way to fix his mailbox in the morning because it was knocked down, or the little girl with the smashed pumpkin; none of these residents think that what happened to them is permissible just because it is the night before Halloween.
I appeal to parents to say NO to your children about going out and walking the streets on the evening of October 30. It’s a Saturday and not a school night so that may make it more difficult. Find something for them to do. Perhaps get some friends together making sure that they all stay in the house. While we all believe that our child would not do anything wrong, why take the chance? By allowing them out on the streets that evening, they just might get caught up in what others are doing and perhaps actually participate. Perhaps they may get accused of something because they are there with a group that caused some mischief or damage. There are no free passes on Goosey Night. If someone commits an act of criminal mischief, they get arrested and charged just as they would any other day of the year. Parents of a child who commits property damage are responsible for financial restitution. While I realize the control of older children may be more difficult, especially those who drive, why not take this opportunity to talk to them about respecting the rights and property of others.
As your Chief of Police, I assure you that the police department will do everything necessary to protect your homes and property on the day before Halloween, as we do every day. With the assistance of each and every parent to control the actions of your children during this Halloween season, we can make Wyckoff a community even more special than it already is.
Halloween should be all about having fun. It should have nothing to do with the destruction or damage to property.
Benjamin C. Fox
Chief of Police