Stateline, Carson City New Year's celebrations relatively crime-free

The casino corridor drew a typical crowd of about 50,000 on New Year's Eve, but this year, revelers could breathe a little easier because there was more room to party in California.

Law enforcement officers moved a barricade from its normal spot near the Stateline to Park Avenue. There was still a crush between Harveys and Harrah's, but people could escape the squeeze if they wanted to, and that made things safer.

"It was far more mellow than in the past," said El Dorado County sheriff's Sgt. Don Atkinson. "Getting into the crowd was much easier. We could set up and move more freely to the problem site."

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said the extra room on the California side took some of the burden off his staff and the Nevada Highway Patrol, and probably decreased crime.

"When people get close, that's when you have so many fights," said Pierini, who, celebrating his 27th New Year's at Stateline, noted that it was the first time in all those years that snow fell at midnight.

Arrests were mostly for misdemeanors related to drinking and fighting. The 29 people booked into Douglas County Jail at Tahoe and the 22 booked at the El Dorado Jail was on par with last year.

There were plenty of medical calls, too, almost all of which involved drunks who had passed out. Barton Memorial Hospital received 38 patients from 7 p.m. through Thursday. Paramedics from the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District responded to 16 medical calls; South Lake Tahoe Fire Department dealt with 10.

One of the calls involved a fight in the parking lot of the El Dorado Motel at around 12:45 a.m. Officers wearing riot gear and carrying batons separated two men and cut off access to the area.

By 1 a.m., law enforcement had reclaimed the highway, and Nevada Department of Transportation snowplows lowered blades to collect trash.

Carson City authorities handled New Year's Eve without major incidents.

"We had a real good night," said Sheriff Kenny Furlong. "We only had a fire and one single DUI arrest. That makes for a great start to the year."

He said there were a couple fights, but nothing too serious.

"The worst thing that happened was the fire," he said. About an acre burned after a field on the corner of Graves Lane and Highway 50 East was ignited by celebratory fireworks.

The Lyon County Sheriff's Department was prepared for the worst, but it never came. Extra deputies were on patrol in all areas of the county, with extra staff at the jail. It was busier than normal, but not as bad as expected, said a Lyon County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at Nevada Appeal reporter Karl Horeis contributed to this story.


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