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Princess Barbie and the Power Rangers won't be the only ones out on the street this Halloween. There will be plenty of police officers, too -- only they won't be in costume.

Communities in Erie and Niagara counties are beefing up police patrols to keep an extra eye on trick-or-treaters this Halloween.

And better yet, some police say, forget the door-to-door canvass for candy this year. Try a community center.

"It might be a year to attend something organized and stay within your community," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina. Or go to a party at a local community hall, he said.

"I think it's easier to control the people you associate with if you are in familiar surroundings," Diina said.

Police say the extra attention they are giving Halloween this year is not prompted by any threats to their communities. But given world events, as well as recent anthrax reports in New York City and in other parts of the country, some police are concerned that Halloween could encourage mischief. "Spinoffs from the emotionally disturbed," Diina said.

If children do go trick-or-treating, parents should accompany them, Diina and some suburban police said. Also, it's best to stay in your neighborhood and not visit strangers' homes, they said.

"We are recommending children only go to the limited neighborhood houses they know," said Mark R. Winters, City of Tonawanda police chief.

"In light of the world we're living in, we would advise parents to be extra cautious and accompany their kids when they go out," said Amherst Police Chief John Moslow.

Police said they are on alert given the Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent anthrax scare. What's more, Halloween has always drawn more attention from police. So several said they won't be doing anything more than usual for this Oct. 31.

"We're generally on a state of higher alert here than normal," said Assistant Chief Dale H. Wight in West Seneca. "Regarding Halloween, we do take extra precautions normally."

"We're using the same precautions as in years past," said Lockport Mayor Thomas C. Sullivan.

In some communities, the extra Halloween precautions were prompted by other past events, or opportunities.

In Kenmore, for example, Halloween has received special attention since a pre-Halloween 1983 homicide scared the community into making the night a highly visible one for police and emergency personnel on village streets.

Mayor John W. Beaumont said fire trucks from area departments cruise the community with their emergency lights on, handing out candy.

The village also will hold its annual parade down Delaware Road to the Kenmore Village Fire Department and celebrate the same Halloween party Kenmore residents have enjoyed for 18 years.

"I don't want to start alarming people. This is what we've been doing, and it's worked very well for us. The parents appreciate it. It gives them a great feeling of security," Beaumont said.

Cheektowaga, as it has for the past five years, will patrol its streets with between six and 10 extra foot patrols for Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. The town receives a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the extra manpower, according to Lt. Cheryl Rucinski.

"We put them in certain areas where we have lots of kids, looking for criminal mischief and speeding vehicles. They're there more for the safety of the kids," Rucinski said.

Grand Island Supervisor Peter A. McMahon said, "We have 10 part-time officers here, and six of them will be working (on Halloween night). We normally have two on duty, so we actually are tripling our coverage. I think it's a reasonable precaution this year." Buffalo also will have extra patrols, Diina said, as will Lackawanna.

East Aurora Police Chief William D. Nye said he thinks the visibility of world events has heightened awareness to the point that parents will be the best patrols.

"I think people are so alarmed right now with all this anthrax stuff that if they would see anything (out of the ordinary), I think they're going to notice it," Nye said.

News Staff Reporters Thomas J. Dolan, Harold McNeil and Mary Pasciak contributed to this report.


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