Douglas prepares for New Year’s Eve | RecordCourier.com

Douglas prepares for New Year’s Eve

Staff Reports

Law enforcement is preparing for the upcoming New Year's Eve celebration at Lake Tahoe starting on Saturday.

"Due to the high volume of celebrants within the Stateline casino core area during this event, Highway 50 may be closed to vehicle traffic in the evening if necessary for public safety," Douglas County Sgt. Bernadette Smith said. "If that should occur, vehicle traffic will be diverted around the Stateline casino core area using upper and lower Lake Parkway Drive."

Drivers anticipating traveling through the Stateline casino core area on New Year's Eve should allow themselves additional time to make it to their destination on time. Drivers in the area in wintertime should always anticipate poor road conditions caused by winter weather and have snow tires mounted on their vehicle or carry tire chains/cables with them, Smith said.

Douglas deputies will be present in the Stateline casino-core area throughout the evening, supplemented by officers and representatives of numerous other law enforcement agencies, including Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Corrections, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, California Highway Patrol and the FBI. Supporting agencies include the Douglas County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, Douglas County Communications Center, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Department, Cal-Trans and Nevada Department of Transportation.

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini has directed all deputies to adopt a non-confrontational approach in their contacts with the celebrants. This method of enforcement has been extremely effective in past years.

"The goal of the sheriff's office is protecting life and property while at the same time allowing celebrants to enthusiastically ring in the New Year. There are, however, behaviors that will not be tolerated by law enforcement," Smith said.

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Incidents that will most likely result in an arrest include acts that place people in jeopardy, including rowdy behavior, fighting, throwing projectiles, vandalism, theft, narcotic violations, severe public drunkenness, possession of or discharge of fireworks, minors consuming or possessing alcohol or any other act that disrupts the goal of achieving a peaceful and safe environment for all in attendance.

Glass or metal containers, regardless of contents, are prohibited in the casino core area on New Year's Eve under Douglas County code.

"Any such containers, including their contents, will be confiscated for destruction by law enforcement," Smith said. "Alcohol or other liquids shall be in a plastic cup, paper cup or other similar vessel. Area casinos are aware of this requirement and will serve alcoholic beverages in plastic cups throughout the evening."

Smith asked that parents be aware of their children's whereabouts and activities, especially during the New Year's Eve celebration.

"During the event, the casino core is not conducive to or intended for participation by juveniles," Smith said. "Each year during the event a large number of contacts and arrests are made of persons under the age of 21. The curfew in Douglas County is midnight on Dec. 31. Persons under the age of 18 are subject to citation for being in violation of this ordinance. Persons under the age of 21 who are in possession of alcohol or who have consumed or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be subject to arrest."

Smith said that until the stroke of midnight possession of marijuana remains illegal in Nevada. Anyone found in possession of marijuana could be prosecuted and fined.

Starting after midnight, Nevada is one of 20 states that decriminalized marijuana possession. Residents will still have to be 21 years-old or older to purchase and consume beginning in January. It will still be illegal to smoke marijuana in a public place in 2017, as well as to drive a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

In addition to the augmented law enforcement staffing in the Stateline casino core area during New Year's Eve, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Nevada Highway Patrol will have a full complement of patrol personnel on duty in both the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe areas. They will be on hand to respond to calls for service and traffic enforcement, particularly targeting intoxicated drivers. All persons who consume alcohol are encouraged to catch a ride with a sober driver or a taxi.