40,000 celebrated New Year’s at Stateline | TahoeDailyTribune.com

40,000 celebrated New Year’s at Stateline

The New Year’s Eve modus operandi went something like this: Have a good time, steer clear of monkey business and don’t break the law.

Law enforcement officials were out in full force for the year-end bash Thursday night, arresting twice as many people as last year, and re-enforcing a zero-tolerance motto in preparation for next year’s millennium frenzy.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department reported approximately 160 arrests in the Stateline casino area between Thursday night and Friday morning, up from the roughly 100 arrests reported the past few years.

South Lake Tahoe Police Department officials estimated making upward of 140 arrests, tripling last year’s numbers, for offenses ranging from public intoxication, disturbing the peace, vandalism, alcohol and drug related transgressions and traffic offenses.

“In past years we gave out a lot more warnings because we didn’t have the manpower to make the arrests we needed to make,” said Sgt. Rick Canale, of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. “This year we established a streamlined booking procedure and put a lot more officers in the streets.”

The El Dorado Sheriff’s Office and South Lake Tahoe Police were assisted in keeping the peace by Nevada and California Highway Patrol, Alcohol and Beverage Control personnel as well as mounted and reserve officers.

In past years crowds reportedly reached about 25,000 to 30,000. This year officials estimate 40,000 revelers swarmed the streets. And that’s only a taste of what’s in store for next year.

“We want folks to be able to come up here and enjoy themselves,” Canale said. “Next year we’re expecting a lot more people and we want them to know that we will have zero tolerance for those who do not stay within the limitations of the law. We want them to have fun but we will not allow people to get away with breaking the law.”

The staggering number of arrests this year, about 300 total, was facilitated by an on-site booking station set up by El Dorado County Jail and the South Lake Tahoe Police Department in the parking garage at Embassy Suites.

“The booking station made it a lot easier for officers to make arrests,” Canale said. “Officers took offenders to the booking station, booked them and loaded them into the Sheriff’s Office vans. Procedures were finalized at the Sheriff’s Office, leaving more officers free to go out into the streets again.”

No major injuries were reported and U.S. Highway 50, closed to traffic at 9 p.m., was re-opened at 1:30 a.m.

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