According to pop culture, Halloween is a night of crimes ravaging through the community, but the picture isn’t so grim in the Sun City. Being one of the safest cities in the U.S., however, doesn’t mean the evening will be without risk. El Paso Police sergeant Enrique Carrillo explained Halloween falling on a weekend means there is greater risk for borderland citizens.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
The classic red cup is no stranger to college parties, and police say this weekend
will be no exception.
“There is a spike in alcohol-related incidents around weekends and holidays, and this year we have Halloween on a weekend,” Carrillo said.
As parties are held across El Paso, Carrillo said the most basic rules should not be ignored.
“The drinking age is 21,” he said.
Some students have admitted to underage drinking, saying they use weekend holiday parties as an opportunity to drink.
As to how the underage students end up drinking, some say it’s simply a lack of supervision.
“Usually it’s just someone that holds a big bash and people of all ages show up,” said Vianssa Armendariz, senior biology major.
She said since many times more people than expected show up, the party host can’t keep track of everyone and their ages.
Ultimately, those responsible for drinking while underage are the ones responsible for anything that happens.
Ignorance, Carrillo said, still does not prevent others from being held responsible.
“The responsibility also falls on the person hosting,” he said, explaining that both the drinker and the host can be held responsible if someone ends up being over-served or served while younger than 21.
In the end, whether drinking or not, the police said a main concern is everyone getting home safely.
“Plan ahead. If you’re going to be drinking have a designated driver, don’t drink and drive,” Carillo said.
Still, Carrillo said the need for a defensive driver never goes away.
“You may have a designated driver, but someone else may not,” he said.
While driving home, police recommend people take extra defensive measures like driving under the speed limit, watching for people crossing the street, especially children in dark costumes, and watching intersections for reckless drivers.
While some may use toilet paper to dress up as a mummy this weekend, others may not have such innocent intentions.
“There is a slight increase in vandalism over the holidays,” Carrillo said, explaining how Christmas decorations are sometimes stolen or damaged over the winter night.
While there aren’t extreme cases of houses being covered in eggs and toilet paper in El Paso, Halloween is no stranger to vandalism itself. One UTEP student recalled how some high school friends once went after a teacher’s house.
“They TPed, egged and whatnot, and destroyed his decorations,” said Vanessa Valdez, a senior criminal justice student.
If you do see suspicious activity, police ask that you report it.
Taking drugs while partying may seem as a natural occurrence, but it could land users in the hospital.
Junior criminal justice major Jose Gonzalez said he was drugged at a party, when he thought he was only eating cherries. He explained there was a bowl at the food table, and shortly after he ate one, he started feeling strange effects. He said he now takes his own food to parties and never accepts drinks he hasn’t seen prepared.
“If you have a drink, don’t leave it unattended. If you do, dump it, don’t drink it,” Carrillo said.
Roofies and other drugs could easily be slipped into drinks, the safest way is to watch what you’re eating and drinking at all times.
In the end, the best defense is always one’s own judgement, some say.
“Go with your gut feeling. If you think something is wrong just leave,” said Jarid Holland, freshman nursing major.
As everyone heads out or stays in for Halloween, police urge caution. There will be extra patrols throughout the city. They urge anyone to report suspicious activity to the non-emergency number, (915) 832-4400, and to always call 911 if there are any crimes in progress or someone’s life is in danger. The Prospector reached out to UTEP Police on what extra measures will be taken on campus over the holiday, but received no comment.
Julio Cesar Chavez may be reached at [email protected]