COLUMN: Reflecting on my Halloween ride-along with CMUPD
I’ve never seen so many people use their car blinkers.
That was my initial takeaway from my Halloween ride-along with Lt. Michael Sienkiewicz from the Central Michigan University Police Department.
My second takeaway was how quiet Halloween night was in Mount Pleasant.
This year, Halloween fell on a Saturday night, during a full moon and Daylight Savings. However, what would have been a bustling party scene, was mainly an uneventful and even peaceful evening.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of noise complaints and large gatherings from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. From the passenger seat of a CMUPD cruiser, I could hear the patrolling officers communicating their bewilderment.
“I’ve never seen it like this,” one officer said over the radio, adding with emphasis, “and on Halloween!”
During the ride-along, Sienkiewicz told me how much CMU and the campus community had changed within the last five years. A quiet Halloween was, in part, the result of decreasing crime trends but especially exacerbated by COVID-19.
"There were people out (this Halloween), but I never saw big groups," Sienkiewicz said. "It wasn't uncommon in the past to get a group of 100 to 200 people huddled outside. We didn't see anything among those lines."
Amid a pandemic, following health and safety guidelines has been imperative to our health and safety. Sienkiewicz expressed the difficulties of enforcing those guidelines. He said while police are trying their best, the responsibility does come down to us and our choices.
We're starting to see an increase in COVID-19 cases across the county, state and country. There's talk of a second outbreak during the winter.
Seven months into the pandemic, it's becoming easier to develop "COVID fatigue."
Despite this type of exhaustion, we still have a responsibility to the people in our community. COVID-19 isn't going away anytime soon, and reckless behavior will only make it stay longer. This Halloween served as an example of our potential to adapt and do better moving forward.
"(CMU) wouldn't have stayed open if it wasn't for students being responsible," Sienkiewicz said. "People are trying to do the right thing. It's not perfect, but I think most people are doing a pretty good job."
As we near the end of the semester and continue to navigate a challenging year, I urge you to consider how your actions affect others, continuously practice patience and exercise empathy. Your effort will make a difference, so take these challenges in stride.