Officers, out in force, hope for self-policing crowd
December 29, 2003
The only comforting thought for authorities regarding the annual ritual of crowd control management at Stateline is that after tonight, the next New Year’s Eve celebration won’t be for another 365 days.
This year, South Lake Tahoe police officers may pack extra headache medicine. Due to budget constraints, there will be fewer officers than last year and no officers on horseback.
“Personally speaking, I’ve had that horse unit come to my rescue,” said Sgt. Brian Williams. “I was getting crushed in a scenario where I could barely breath.”
Williams said a mounted unit pushed the crowd back like “bowling pins.”
Officers have changed where they will be located on Lake Tahoe Boulevard between Park Place and the casinos. Backs will be facing the Marriott complex while pedestrians use the westbound lanes of Lake Tahoe Boulevard for access.
There will be about eight officers who haven’t experienced the Stateline New Year’s scene, Williams said.
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“It’s important and also part of their training in crowd control,” Williams said. “You have to handle large groups of people diplomatically.”
Authorities aren’t sure how the weather will affect the number of revelers. Ray Collins, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said a storm will arrive later today, dumping up to a foot of snow at lake level by tomorrow night.
Tonight’s low temperature is 20 degrees, Collins said.
“Certainly the foul weather has an impact on the number of people but once you get over 10,000 it really doesn’t matter,” Williams said. “The impact of what we have to do is the same.”
The raised terror alert to orange will only increase awareness among authorities.
El Dorado County Sheriff Jeff Neves said he applied to the county’s Office of Emergency Services for a counterterrorism grant to cover overtime expenses.
Fourteen deputies who mostly volunteered for the duty from the West Slope will assist. Other deputies will provide security for Embassy Suites Resort.
There will not be much change for Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, which will have about 100 deputies in force. The Nevada Highway Patrol will help double that number, said Bob Rudnick, chief deputy for Douglas County.
“We just hope everyone uses common sense,” Rudnick said.
Out of thousands, only 70 or so people were arrested on the Nevada side last year, Rudnick said. Williams said people basically do a good job of policing themselves and hopes for more of the same tonight.
“We all pack headache medicine,” Williams said. “Those helmets are not comfortable. It’s painful, it’s uncomfortable and we’re swallowing our Ibuprofen just hoping for Jan. 2.”
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org.