Size of New Years’ crowd still unclear |

Size of New Years’ crowd still unclear

No one really knows what will happen at Stateline come New Year’s Eve 2000. Will so many unruly people squeeze into the street between the casinos that riots break out, or will crowds be lighter due to Y2K fears?

“We’ll have a much better picture of what’s going to happen a couple months after it happens,” South Lake Tahoe Police Cmdr. Bart Owens told the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association on Thursday.

Whatever happens, law enforcement plans to be there in force of numbers but, hopefully, without force.

“We have never had a riot there,” Owens said. “We take a few bottles but that’s not a riot, it’s a celebration. We treat the kids with dignity and respect and hope they do the same.

“We want to be part of the crowd, in the crowd instead of on scrimmage lines where they can say, ‘There they are, let’s get them.'”

Nevertheless, law enforcement officers from the city police department, El Dorado County Sheriffs and Douglas County Sheriffs will be ready with contingency plans for a scrimmage line if necessary. All the departments will bring in extra people, several hundred worth, from surrounding communities.

Mounted horses will also be on hand.

“They’re great public relations tools,” Owens said.

There will not be any National Guard to avoid the expectation of a riot, he said. However, local law enforcement officials will keep in touch with the guard in case of emergency.

The agencies that will be represented are working together to ensure everyone arrives with the same non-confrontational goals.

According to Owens, a booking facility will be set up near Park Avenue and Van Sickle Road for the inevitable bookings that occur when large crowds gather.

“We’ll try our darndest to keep the line between the casinos,” Owens said.

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