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State Police and citizen volunteers Conduct annual "Pumpkin Patrol" Halloween safety effort

By WKTV News

New York State Police Troop T and citizen volunteers will conduct their 36th annual "Pumpkin Patrol" on October 30 and 31, the New York State Thruway Authority announced. The initiative is aimed at preventing Halloween pranks and protecting motorists along the 570-mile roadway.

Volunteers assisting Troop T will monitor Thruway overpasses and report any unusual activity to State Police or local law enforcement. Seventeen organizations from 19 counties have volunteered to participate in this year's efforts. Troop T will also keep watch for other violations including speeding, driving while intoxicated, and aggressive driving.

These patrols are made up of members of the State Police Troop T, local citizen band radio clubs, and amateur radio operators. Troop T, whose members patrol the Thruway exclusively, and the volunteers will be on watch Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, October 30 and 31.

"Dangerous pranks can quickly turn into tragedy, and these patrols help prevent this type of activity," said Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison. "Safety has always been our top priority. On behalf of the Thruway Authority and our motorists system wide, I thank Troop T and the volunteers for their dedication to keeping us safe on the Thruway each Halloween."

"Troop T will be out in full force monitoring any unusual activity, plus patrolling roads, bridges and exits to help minimize any potential hazards to travelers," said State Police Troop T Sgt. Thomas Ferritto. "As part of this effort, Troop T will watch for intoxicated drivers, and will be conducting seat belt checks."

The Pumpkin Patrol was initiated as a volunteer effort in 1976 by Katherine St. Jacques in Fort Johnson, Montgomery County. Ms. St. Jacques was talking to a truck driver on her citizens band radio when the windshield of his vehicle was struck by an object thrown from an overpass. The driver was injured by broken glass. St. Jacques and two companions decided to stand watch on the three over passes that crossed the Thruway in the Fort Johnson area. More than 300 volunteers and 15 organizations will participate in this year's effort. The State Police then took over the Pumpkin Patrol in 1990 as part of the State Police crime prevention effort.

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