Ambush threat factors into APD Halloween night security plans

AUSTIN, Texas— The threat of a Halloween ambush has local law enforcement on alert. Monday, Austin Police chief addressed the threat as well as safety measures that will be in place this weekend.

Night spots along Sixth Street were restocking Wednesday morning in anticipation of a busy weekend. APD was also getting ready, according to Chief Art Acevedo.

"We know, we know that Halloween weekend has become a huge party weekend,” Chief Acevedo said.

The Halloween celebration in Austin is always big, but with the holiday falling on a Saturday this year, APD is not holding anything back. A special response team will be in the entertainment districts to manage the crowds. There will also be undercover patrols.

"We will have officers around that you won’t even know they are officers, like we do anytime we have major events, that will be our spotters and they will be looking for any potential problem,” the Chief said.

Last year, 44 DWI arrests were made during the annual No Refusal weekend.

Dealing with large crowds is not the only challenge for the police this year. The FBI has sent out an alert that a radical group is encouraging people to dress up in costumes, cause a disturbance and then ambush police Halloween night.

"Well we don’t have any specific threat here, the alert came out recently. Bottom-line for us, we know police officers do get ambushed, we know that,” Chief Acevedo said.

There is reason for concern: in 2008 an anarchist tried to burn down the Governor’s Mansion. Last year, a gunman went on a rampage downtown. While those incidents were random attacks, the chief said those working street patrols Halloween night will have to be aware of the increased risk.

"In terms of any threat, we will be putting out a bulletin to our folks before Halloween to remind them of the fact there is a threat out there. They need to be vigilant, they need to be prepared, and they need to make sure they keep themselves safe,” Chief Acevedo said.

The Halloween No Refusal weekend starts Friday at 9 P.M. Cars on Sixth Street must be moved by 6 P.M. or they will be towed. The chief said the focus will not just be on downtown, patrols will also be increased throughout town during the weekend.