Police prepare for annual New Year’s celebration
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – As New Year’s revelers pour into the South Shore, area law enforcement officials are also gearing up for one of their busiest weekends of the year.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office expects the addition of the three-day SnowGlobe Music Festival to this year’s celebrations to increase the size of crowds in the casino corridor leading up to the annual street party in Stateline on New Year’s Eve.
Officials anticipate thousands of people from outside the region to attend, putting an onus on security and law enforcement, as the odds of more impaired drivers on the road – whether South or North Tahoe – will rise.
Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Rob Stepien said area law enforcement officials have had two planning meetings in the past month to prepare for SnowGlobe, along with the normal festivities in the casino corridor.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Gartner said he does not expect the music festival to dramatically change how law enforcement handles the amount of revelers.
He said South Shore law enforcement agencies have been in contact with their Colorado counterparts who worked the music festival’s sister event, last year’s SnowBall Music Festival in Avon, and said they reported few problems.
In addition to the annual cadre of officers at the Stateline, the law enforcement agency will also patrol the area of the music festival, Gartner said.
While officers aren’t expecting major issues, they’re prepared due the lack of snow in Lake Tahoe and the fact New Year’s Eve is on a Saturday this year, Stepien said.
“With us not having snow, those types of conditions means more people are willing to stay on the roads; it’s really enhancing our awareness,” Stepien said.
NHP plans to have an additional 18 troopers patrolling the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe this weekend, Stepien said, with 15 assigned specifically to help control the massive crowd that counts down the end of the year at Stateline.
CHP will also have an additional 15 to 20 officers coming from around the area to help manage New Year’s crowds, Gartner said.
Several agencies plan to conduct roving DUI patrols throughout the region.
Highway 50 through the casinos corridor may also temporarily close to vehicle traffic between New Year’s Eve and New Years Day as people flood the streets.
Drivers expecting to travel through the casino core area should allow themselves an additional 15 minutes of travel time. Drivers should also always prepare for poor road conditions due to winter weather.
Gartner encouraged people to find a safe ride home if they’ve been drinking and said people should call 911 if they suspect drunken driving.
“Hopefully people won’t drive, but we’ll see,” Gartner said.
While there has been a steady stream of vehicles coming into town, how attendance to this year’s festivities stacks up to previous years won’t be known until the weekend is over, Gartner said.
“We want people to have a good time, but we want them to drive safe and drive smart,” Gartner said.
– Kevin MacMillan contributed to this story.
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