Next New Year’s needs preparation |

Next New Year’s needs preparation

New Year’s Eve 1999 was just a test run, but it sure was smooth.

With the crush of visitors ebbing, South Shore law enforcement is looking to plans for the millennium.

“The plan we put together this year was quite different than anything we’ve done in the past,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Cmdr. Bart Owens. “We considered it a tune-up for next year. The fact that no one was hurt and there were no major incidents was a tribute to all law enforcement involved.”

Owens said in the next week the police department would be doing an in-house critique of the 1999 activities and some fine tuning for 2000.

“After that, we’ll set it off to the side for awhile,” Owens said. “We have the Fourth of July to deal with and it’s become quite a monumental event of its own. Once that’s over we start getting ready again for New Year’s.”

Owens said despite increased numbers – estimates put the crowd on U.S. Highway 50 at more than 40,000 – the revelers were cooperative for the most part. To deal with the increased crowds California law enforcement added officers. Members of the South Lake Tahoe police, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department and probation department, California Highway Patrol, and Alcoholic Beverage Control were on hand to keep order for a total of about 100 officers on the California side.

El Dorado County Sheriff Hal Barker said he plans to ask the county supervisors to budget for an increased number of officers this year.

“We’re aware that next year is going to be a big year and we’re already planning for the onslaught,” Barker said. “I’m planning to ask the supervisors for a budget item for the year 2000. The number of officers we had this year against 60,000 people isn’t going to be enough. If you have a good solid show of strength people are less likely to go in the wrong direction.”

Barker said he would meet several times early in 1999 with Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini and South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brad Bennett to discuss plans for next year’s celebration.

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