Overhead police snipers, officer strike teams and K-9 units will help ensure that the throngs of revelers expected for the New Year’s Eve celebration on the Strip and downtown Las Vegas are protected.
The theme outside the Smith’s Center, where Las Vegas, Clark County and public safety officials spoke Thursday morning, was uniform: They’ve planned on a safe but fun event for the more than 375,000 tourists and locals who will celebrate America’s Party.
“We want everyone not only to have a safe night, but we want you to have a fun night, and that’s what New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas is all about,” said Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
Every year, the logistical planning process for the celebration — an iconic Las Vegas occurrence that rivals the Time Square affair in New York City — begins right after Jan. 1, Lombardo said.
And it’s never the same.
The Department of Homeland Security this year deemed the Las Vegas celebration a Level 2 Special Event Assessment Rating, a downgrade from the SEAR 1 classification granted in 2017 after the Oct. 1 shooting.
The classification a year ago had been discussed for months, but the attack may have tilted the government’s decision, Lombardo said, noting that there currently hadn’t been any threats identified in the valley. “We anticipate a wonderful celebration.”
Though SEAR classification was downgraded, local agencies will still count on federal resources such as logistical technology and personnel, air assets, about 50 federal agents and mobile radio systems, Lombardo said. About 250 Nevada National Guard members will be visible at McCarran International Airport and the celebration hubs.
There also will be a significant increase of police dogs used, Lombardo said. Officer-formed strike teams will stand guard at the entrance of every major resort property on the Strip and downtown as opposed to the streets like in years past.
Plainclothes officers will be among the crowds, Lombardo said.
More than 1,500 Metro officers will be on shift. Henderson Police and North Las Vegas Police will have visible resources on the Strip and downtown.
The Clark County Commission funded 1,600 bollards this year on the Strip to protect pedestrians, which cost more than $9 million, Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick noted. Roughly 4,000 metal barricades will go up.
The Clark County Fire Department, which will staff the Strip, is expecting an increase of medical-related calls in the tourist corridor, and will have an increased personnel ready, Deputy Fire Chief Jon Wiercinski said. A medical tent will go up on Flamingo Road and Linq Lane and another at the southwest corner of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.
Las Vegas Fire & Rescue will dispatch resources to downtown.
Meanwhile, administrative offices of Metro Police and the Nevada Highway Patrol will house multi-agency personnel.
Similar to the 2016 presidential election, a Clark County firehouse will serve as a hub to disseminate real-time information in case any emergency incident occurs, Wiercinski said.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman reminded the public to be the ears and eyes of law enforcement. Suspicious behavior can be reported to officers at the scene or by calling 702-828-7777.
Asked if he was at ease, Lombardo said, “to be frank with you, no. That’s part of my job and that’s what I signed on to do.”
“But I feel comfortable on our department strategy leading up to the event … but I’m in law enforcement, you never feel comfortable, ever.” ___
This article is written by Ricardo Torres-Cortez from Las Vegas Sun and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.