Deputies ready for unwanted Stateline bash |

Deputies ready for unwanted Stateline bash

by Scott Murphy, Staff Writer

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini has worked each of the impromptu New Year’s Eve street celebrations at Lake Tahoe since 1976.

Pierini, who turns 50 New Year’s Day, prefers to think of it as 60,000 people attending his birthday party.

However, the sheriff would likely prefer a very different and quieter party.

Instead, the illegal and unwelcome gathering causes five law enforcement agenices to use a lot of manpower and energy.

The agencies also rely on an as-yet-to-appear ally: snow.

The gathering is estimated at about 60,000 people, according to the sheriff’s office.

Each year since 1976, Stateline’s casino corridor has hosted an ever-increasing crowd that moves into U.S. Highway 50 while waiting on the new year’s arrival.

The event is non-sanctioned, non-official and not welcomed.

No permits are issued and it’s not really supposed to happen, Pierini said.

“If we all had our rathers, this thing would have gone away a long time ago, Pierini said.

The casinos’ security staffs work diligently to keep people younger than 21 out of their casinos, he said.

What that creates is no place for party-goers to be except for in Highway 50, Pierini said.

Usually, about 100 of the revelers are arrested each year, he said.

“Most people just come to have a good time and we leave it as such,” he said.

In 1992, Pierini said the agencies agreed to try and keep the road open, but the crowd was too large to hold back.

Pierini said the number of problems for deputies in Carson Valley and Topaz on New Year’s Eve are traditionally minimal at best.

Although Pierini said some folks will argue with him regarding this point, he maintains that it has never snowed on New Year’s Eve.

Deputies have always hoped for snowfall, because they believe it would chase away revelers.

The South Lake Tahoe City Police Department, California Highway Patrol and El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office work together along with the casino staffs to provide security.

Also, additional staff from the Nevada State Prison helps take people to jail.

Pierini said the training and work that goes into the event allows for steady improvement by law enforcement.

“Every year we improve something,” he said. Also, “The (casinos’) cooperation is excellent. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Pierini said an improvement this year involves better communications between different posts.

“The biggest issue is dealing with communications,” he said.

With different things going on, there are specialized units to handle certain things like taking away glass containers.

“(There’s) a lot of work that goes into this,” he said. “It’s an event that uses a lot of resources and a lot of hard work.”

Training is provided to casino employees and for deputies to help with crowd control.

Pierini also offers this advice, although he doubts it will help.

“Anybody under 18, parents should keep kids away from Stateline,” he said. “There’s a large number who are juveniles, who have no business there. Control (the) kids and keep them away from Stateline.”