Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory
Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory / My Buckhannon file photo

Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory offers can’t-miss advice about how residents can stay safe this holiday season

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon Police Chief Matthew Gregory is offering tips residents can use to stay safe this holiday season.

The holidays include a lot of traveling and online shopping, so Gregory is giving the best advice regarding how people can do these things safely.

“When driving, don’t only be alert and careful yourself, but especially be alert for the other driver – we call it situational awareness – just be aware of your surroundings and aware of what’s going on and what other drivers are doing,” Gregory said. “Anticipate possible adverse reactions from them to be able to react accordingly, and if you’re going to attend any event that is serving alcohol, don’t drink and drive; always have a designated driver, and the designated driver is somebody that has had nothing to drink – not the least amount.”

While the temperatures are dropping and snow is falling, those are not the only natural driving hazards.

“If you’ve gone through several days of dry weather and then it rains all of a sudden, that can create slick conditions, similar to ice, so be cognizant of that,” Gregory said. “If that should occur, one of the biggest causes of accidents with slick conditions is overreacting — don’t overreact. Just follow the safe driving protocols; if you would encounter slick conditions, steer into the skid and slow your speed.”

Gregory said people should also prepare their homes if they are planning long-term travel.

“I know a lot of people like to post their status and share their experiences on Facebook, but just from a safety perspective, it’s never a good idea to share that you’re going to be away from home, especially for longer periods of time,” Gregory said. “That could potentially make your house or your property a target, so really the key to avoiding becoming a victim is what we call ‘target hardening,’ and it starts with awareness. It starts with not putting those notifications out there that you will be away.”

“It’s also helpful to have lights on, especially if you can have a light on a timer that will come on and that will give the semblance of somebody being in your house,” the chief added.

Gregory said the best way to keep your home safe is to ask a friend or family member to check in periodically.

“We do have a service here where people can register for house check reports with us, and we take basic information in terms of how long the owner will be gone; contact numbers in case of emergency; whether or not they’ll have lights on; or if anyone is checking on the house,” Gregory said. “Anytime we get those reports, we pass those on to our officers working throughout the day, and even night shifts, so they are aware on their patrols to keep an extra eye out for those homes.”

Gregory also recommended that people not allow packages to pile up outside of their homes.

“You never want to let packages, especially large packages, accumulate on your porch because that becomes a target for two things: one for the taking of the package itself and two, especially if they’re there for longer periods of time, that sends a message that you’re currently not home,” Gregory said. “Whether it’s going to somebody who you can trust and asking them to pick those packages up or have them delivered to another location — maybe a worksite – always remember you shouldn’t allow packages to sit outside too long.”

Gregory described people who that commit these types of crimes as “opportunists.”

“They’re looking for the quick-and-easy score; they’re looking for something they’re going to get away with and something valuable, so the more you can avoid that, the better off you are,” the police chief said.

For more information about the BPD or to contact them, visit their website at buckhannonpolice.com.

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