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Police, businesses ready for holiday rush

Local police agencies and retail outlets are gearing up for the holiday season by taking additional measures to keep residents safe.

Staff Sgt. Leonard Crouch, of the Albany County Stop-DWI program, said this time of year brings a good deal of activity that requires police attention.

Crouch said the Albany-Stop DWI program will be performing additional enforcement activities around Thanksgiving. He said DWI sweeps are planned for Wednesday, Nov. 26, and the weekend after Thanksgiving.

That Wednesday night becomes a large alcohol consumption evening, Crouch said, adding that they are prime times for students coming home from college for the first time to have too much fun partying with their "compadres."

He also said that Crossgates Mall, Stuyvesant Plaza and Colonie Center, along with area enforcement agencies, will be participating in a handicap parking enforcement sweep.

Crouch said it's the 39th countywide sweep since 1994, and since they've begun, the sweeps have yielded 1,864 tickets totaling $195,210.

He said it is important to raise awareness about the needs of the handicapped, and they should have the same access to shopping as everyone else.

Sara Boniface, the marketing director for Crossgates Mall said the mall is not adding any additional security for the holiday season, but they will be adding additional crossing guards and a shuttle service to help patrons get from the outer parking spaces to the mall entrance.

"Security is something we take seriously all year round," Boniface said.

In addition to the Stop-DWI program, Major William Sprague, Troop G Commander and Captain Ronald Tritto of the New York State Troopers and the Department of Regional Transportation Director Jan Meilhede were at the mall Monday, Nov. 24, checking for speeders on Interstate 87 near the Crossgates Mall exit.

"It is fundamentally important that motorists practice good driving sense and appropriate driving behavior always but especially during the upcoming holiday season given the increase in traffic and winter weather conditions," Meilhede said.

Sprague added that it is pivotal to be mindful of other drivers during the holiday rush.

"Please drive with extreme care," Sprague said. "Using caution and driving responsibly helps ensure that families stay together long after the holiday season is over."

Boniface also commented on the expectations for the crowds and for the sales at the mall.

She said the mall is expecting large crowds on "Black Friday," the notoriously busy shopping day after Thanksgiving, as well as the Saturday before Christmas, Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. ""

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