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Las Vegas police boosting security on Strip for New Year’s Eve

Updated December 27, 2018 - 5:40 pm

Las Vegas police will ramp up security on New Year’s Eve as an estimated 375,000 people flock to the Strip to ring in 2019, the department said Thursday.

More than 1,500 Metropolitan Police Department officers, some in plain clothes, will patrol the Strip and Fremont Street on Monday night, joined by members of the FBI and the Nevada National Guard, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said at a news conference. The Sheriff’s Office also will assist.

“With a crowd of that size, this is an all-hands-on-deck approach,” he said.

Metro will assign teams of officers to the entrance of every hotel on the Strip and Fremont Street. In past years, the teams were stationed on the road, rather than in the doorways of the buildings, Lombardo said. The department will also have a “sniper overwatch” along the Strip and Fremont Street corridors.

The Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority estimates 318,000 tourists will travel to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve, and police expect 375,000 people — including locals — to converge on the Strip.

The Department of Homeland Security has designated this year’s New Year’s Eve party as SEAR 2, or Special Event Assessment Rating 2, Lombardo said. The designation means Las Vegas will receive federal resources including air assets, dogs, federal agents and radio systems. Last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration, which came in the wake of the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip, was designated SEAR 1, reserved for events with large attendance and national attention, such as the Super Bowl.

Lombardo said coordination with hotels and casinos on security for New Year’s Eve starts just after the prior year’s celebration.

“It’s a long, intensive planning process,” Lombardo said.

As of Thursday morning, Lombardo said, police were not aware of any threats made to the Las Vegas celebration.

“For the public’s part, we are all asking you all to remain vigilant,” Lombardo said. “Help us by being our eyes and ears. If something doesn’t look right, call us, or tell one of the hundreds of uniformed officers you will see on New Year’s Eve.”

People who see something suspicious on New Year’s Eve should call Metro’s security tip hotline at 702-828-7777, he said.

The Clark County Fire Department will add four fire engines, two rescue crews and 100 personnel, including emergency medical technicians, firefighters and administrators, to its regular roster, said Deputy Fire Chief Jon Wiercinski.

The department will staff two tents with paramedics and ambulances — one at Flamingo Road and Linq Lane and another at the southwest corner of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, Wiercinski said. He recommended visitors stay hydrated, dress for cold weather and wear comfortable shoes for walking.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman touted the efforts of local law enforcement and described Las Vegas as a safe community with a New Year’s Eve party that rivals the celebration in New York City’s Times Square.

“This is the place to be once again,” Goodman said. “Our customers, our tourists, our residents will be very very secure and taken care of.”

The mayor also encouraged party-goers to arrange safe rides home if they plan to drink.

Clark County spent more than $9 million this year to install 1,600 bollards along the Strip to protect pedestrians, according to County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick. The county’s public works team will position 4,000 metal barricades along the Strip on New Year’s Eve. The department will remove the barriers on the morning of New Year’s Day, along with the 15 tons of trash expected to be left behind by partygoers, Kirkpatrick said.

The Nevada Highway Patrol will close freeway offramps near the Strip at 5 p.m. Monday, Lombardo said, and police will enforce a curfew between 6 p.m. Monday and 5 a.m. Tuesday. No one younger than 18 — whether or not they are with an adult — will be allowed on the Strip or downtown, Metro spokesman Larry Hadfield said Thursday.

Contact Kimber Laux at klaux@reviewjournal.com. Follow @lauxkimber on Twitter.

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