Officers gear up for Fourth of July
The long arm of the law wants to keep a short leash on wrongdoing over the Fourth of July weekend, Lake Tahoe’s busiest holiday of the year.
The FBI has issued a bulletin asking police to be on heightened alert, even though no reported intelligence suggests a terrorist attack.
“It’s not based on a specific threat. But we’re cognizant that some potential terrorist groups may seek to exploit the symbolic importance of our nation’s birthday,” FBI spokesman Nick Rossi said from his Sacramento office.
The bureau will establish a command post in the state’s capital during the holiday, and agents, including Tahoe’s Chris Campion, will work on a standby basis.
Federal, state, county and city law enforcement will be looking for offenses ranging from possession of illegal fireworks to drunk driving.
Fireworks are illegal in the basin, and those possessing them could go to jail for six months or be levied a $1,000 fine, the U.S. Forest Service reports.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Department responded to four reports last year of juveniles lighting fireworks, Sgt. Lance Modispacher reported. Sheriff’s units will include bike patrols.
“There’s a high fire danger. We have a zero tolerance to any type of fireworks, whether detonated or not. Parents need to know what’s going on. We don’t want this place to go up in a blaze,” Modispacher said, also requesting that people “be aware of their surroundings.”
Mounted patrols from El Dorado County and the city of South Lake Tahoe will work together over the four-day holiday to confiscate fireworks and issue citations.
There will be fewer city bicycle patrols, Cmdr. Tom Conner said.
“We’re so short-handed, we need those guys at specific posts,” Conner said.
Open alcohol containers will not be allowed. Police will be out in full force looking for people drinking in public and creating disturbances.
“Remember, it’s everybody’s Independence Day,” he said.
Conner also asked for the public’s help in reporting suspicious activity. One example would be seeing a U-Haul at the beach.
Ditto, said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Jim Devane, as the lake will be boiling with activity. Two patrol boats will be under way and all crew on duty will monitor the behavior and safety of those on the lake.
“We prepare for a wide contingency of negative things to happen,” Devane said.
The boat patrol answered 16 rescue calls on the last Fourth of July holiday.
Most agree this year should be different.
California and Nevada highway patrol units are gearing up for increased DUI cases, especially with hot summer temperatures and a long holiday weekend. Both states have set a maximum enforcement period starting Wednesday and ending July 9.
“Even people on the way up here get hot in bumper-to-bumper traffic. If they’ve got alcohol, they sometimes start drinking it (before they get here),” CHP Tahoe spokeswoman Sherry Reehl said.
That’s why South Shore resident Betty Hundrieser ran around Monday to do errands. Like many locals, she wants to stay put at home with the barbecue grill Thursday.
“I go out when it’s less crowded,” she said.
Despite the heightened alert, many visitors already in town said they haven’t altered their travel plans.
Donna and John Borg of Costa Mesa had their hearts set on coming to Tahoe this year for their 10-year wedding anniversary. They retraced their steps from a decade ago today, when they tied the knot at Emerald Bay.
Terrorism? “We never really thought about it,” she said. “It hasn’t stopped us from flying.”