Fort Herkimer Amateur Radio Association Assists New York State Police T (Thruway) Troop Halloween Pumpkin Patrol


New York State Police and citizen volunteers have completed the 38th Annual Pumpkin Patrol Watch. This is a volunteer two-day crime prevention program involving New York State amateur radio associations working with law enforcement for safe Halloween eves. The goal is to ward off Halloween pranks and protect motorists using the Thruway. Patrols consist of New York State Police T Troop soldiers and local ham radio operators from area ham radio clubs.

On October 30 and 31, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., volunteers monitor the NYS Thruway overpasses and report any unusual activity to law enforcement. State police said 15 organizations from 19 counties volunteered to participate this year across the state.

The New York State Police T Troop has partnered with amateur radio associations to create a crime prevention program called Pumpkin Patrol. The Pumpkin Patrol began as a volunteer effort in 1976 by Katherine St. Jacques in Fort Johnson, Montgomery County. She was talking to a truck driver on her CB radio when her windshield was hit by an object thrown from an overpass. The driver was injured by shards of glass. St. Jacques and his friends began monitoring the overpasses the following year for suspicious activity. Since then, every October 30 and 31, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., volunteers have been monitoring overpasses throughout the region to help prevent people from committing crimes.

In 1984, the Pumpkin Patrol expanded to involve amateur radio operators, as they could provide more extensive communications than CB radios. In 1985, the Pumpkin Patrol covered the New York State Thruway from Syracuse to Newburgh.

In 1990, St. Jacques decided to retire and handed over coordination to NYS State Police Troop T (Thruway). Coverage was again extended from Orange County to Chautauqua County.

The Fort Herkimer Amateur Radio Association (FHARA) has been involved with the Pumpkin Patrol for many years and this year monitored 14 different points along the New York State Thruway at Herkimer County Overpasses. Fortunately, with 16 FHARA amateur radio operators on duty this year, no suspicious activity has been reported. Lighted member vehicles located at the ends of the bridges act as a deterrent to any potential criminal activity.

New York State Police from T Troop in Syracuse had troopers patrolling their areas off the highway and stopping at each radio operator checkpoint to thank us for our participation and we congratulate us on our work and our dedication. They completed rounds both nights.

The Fort Herkimer Radio Association trains regularly to provide communications for community events when needed.

The Fort Herkimer Radio Association welcomes new members interested in becoming amateur radio operators and regularly offers an entry-level FCC course for technicians (no Morse code required).

FHARA meets monthly on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, usually at the Herkimer County 911 Center at 7 p.m. Meetings are free and open to the public.

Anyone interested in the club can attend a meeting or call club president Don Peterson KD2ILO at 1315-868-3283 or education committee chair Chris Bouck KB4CMF at 1-315-429-3927 for more information.

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