LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – A coalition of state and local law enforcement, fire, and emergency personnel on Thursday declared Las Vegas prepared for the more than 400,000 people predicted to gather along the Strip on New Year’s Eve.
“Large-scale events are something we’re not unprepared for. This is going to be one of those events that reflect the work and the effort that’s been put together by your first responder community, all the elected officials that take part in this, so we’re looking forward to this event,” said Undersheriff Andrew Walsh with LVMPD.
“We start planning this event along with Metro and so many of the other agencies basically right after New Year’s from the previous year,” said Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck.
Once again, this year Metro will team up with all city law enforcement, The Nevada State Patrol, FBI, local fire departments and emergency medical personnel, as well as private security entities, to provide a comprehensive security plan. Undersheriff Walsh says the Valley’s first responders have developed a highly organized, extremely coordinated approach to handling major events like New Year’s Eve. Still, history does give him pause.
“I think when we all think back to recent events, you know the tragedy that occurred at UNLV, it’s a reminder to all of us that it doesn’t take a lot of sophistication, it doesn’t take a lot of complex planning, it doesn’t take a lot of coordination to wreak havoc on our community,” he said.
“It also is a stark reminder for how important it is for us to be prepared as a first responder community and the training, and the effort that we put in throughout the year in order to make sure all these events are safe. And I can assure you that the efforts that we make, and the plans that are put into place, that you’ll see, once again during New Year’s Eve, will keep us all safe.”
Walsh said Metro would have a large contingent of officers along the Strip, on Fremont Street, and in the Arts District, but he assures residents, areas away from the strip will also see increased patrols.
Walsh warned the road closure will start early on New Year’s Eve. He outlined the following timeline:
- 4:30pm – Las Vegas Boulevard between Spring Mountain Road and Tropicana Boulevard
- 5:30pm – I-15 & Flamingo off-ramps begin closing
- Las Vegas Boulevard will remain closed to all traffic
- Spring Mountain and Tropicana will stay open to accommodate east/westbound traffic
- LVMPD will provide real-time traffic updates via social media
The Undersheriff warned certain items will not be allowed on either the Strip or Fremont Street between 6 pm on December 31st, and 6am on January 1st. They include:
- Glass bottles/containers
- Bags larger than 12x12x6″ (i.e., luggage, diaper bags, computer bags)
- Strollers or carts
Walsh said, if necessary, deputies and officers will confiscate banned items.
“We’ll ask everyone that visits the Strip and Downtown to just simply not bring those items down there, it just makes it that much more harder for the officers to do their job and to be vigilant if they have to address things that we’ve put plenty of notice out will not be allowed on the Strip or in Downtown.”
One person will be missing from the command center on New Year’s Eve – Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Warren Whitney. Whitney passed away earlier this month after a brief illness. Walsh said his memory will be with them Sunday night.
“He was a good friend and we’re truly going to miss him, and he was a fixture in this room every year, and he is one of the reasons why this first responder community that will be out there protecting the Strip and Downtown this year will be successful in everything they do. He was a big fixture in our partnership, and I’m going to miss my friend.”
Sober and safe roadways
Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft made an appeal to drivers to do their part to keep local roadways safe.
“And that includes making sure that we are preparing and planning to have not only a good time but also planning for how we get home after the good time is over.”
Naft said there are plenty of no, and low-cost options for getting to and from the party, including:
- Free RTC bus rides on all routes 6pm December 31st – 9am January 1st
- Monorail – reduced fairs December 31st-January 2nd
- $1 single-ride tickets for locals
- $6 single-ride tickets for visitors
- 24-hour passes start at $13
- Advance tickets available online
The Commissioner said, when you factor in the availability of rideshare vehicles and taxis, there’s simply no excuse for driving impaired. Plus, he warned police, deputies, and state troopers will be watching.
“They will be out there in force, they will be out there doing the big, major things that need to happen to keep this community safe, and that includes making sure only sober drivers are on our roadways,” said Naft.
The idea is to have a good time but to do it safely.
“There is no better place in the world to spend New Year’s Eve than right here, and it is our top priority to make sure that this is as safe an event as is humanly possible,” said Clark County Commission Chair James Gibson.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman summed it up this way:
“The critical piece of what we do in Las Vegas is prepare as an entertainment district to give everyone a safe, but happy and fun-filled time.”
Mayor Goodman said she’s confident the city’s ready to take its place in the spotlight.
“I wish you all a happy and safe New Year. The eyes of the world are always on Las Vegas, we are unique and we are one of a kind,” Goodman added.
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