Three months after the worst mass shooting in modern US history, Las Vegas will be ringing in the New Year with beefed up security, including snipers, extra K9 units and an unprecedented number of police officers and soldiers.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will have every officer on the force working on New Year’s Eve, while the Nevada National Guard is activating more than 350 soldiers and airmen after lawmakers earlier this month approved tripling the state funding for security measures at annual America’s Party celebration.
The federal government is also sending dozens of personnel to assist with intelligence gathering and other efforts.
‘I’m confident every available resource is being used to make sure this New Year’s Eve will be safe,’ Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said during a news conference Wednesday.
Tourism officials expect about 330,000 visitors to come to Las Vegas for the festivities on and around Las Vegas Boulevard that are anchored by a roughly eight-minute firework display at the top of seven of the destination’s casino-hotels.
The show will start 10 seconds before midnight Sunday at the Stratosphere. The other firing locations are at the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
The US Department of Homeland Security recently upgraded the city’s New Year’s Eve on its list of special events that due to its economic or social impact, length and attendance could be potential targets of criminal activity.
For the first time, the celebration was ranked in the highest category, which also includes the Super Bowl.
The designation of the Special Event Assessment Rating 1 leads to a substantial increase in federal resources. Lombardo said the assistance will include intelligence personnel who will analyze social media and other information, medical technicians and helicopters.
The change in rating was not a direct result of the mass shooting carried out on October 1 by Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people and injured hundreds more after he shattered the windows of his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Strip and unleashed gunfire on a country music festival below. He then killed himself.
Lombardo said no specific threat to the end-of-year festivities has been discovered. In addition to spotters, snipers will be posted on city’s rooftops for the first time during the New Year’s Eve celebration.
Multiple quick-response teams will be ready to deploy in the event of a critical incident, according to the sheriff. More medical personnel, K9 units, and air assets will be on hand for this year’s celebration.
Buses and other large vehicles will block key intersections to try to prevent anyone from plowing onto crowds.
Partygoers will be prohibited from bringing to the Strip glass bottles and coolers, strollers, large bags, backpacks or luggage of any kind.
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said crews have installed nearly 800 steel posts known as bollards along the Las Vegas Strip, which are capable of withstanding a head-on collision from a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling at 50mph. The county plans to install an additional 7,500.
The number of National Guard soldiers and airmen activated in connection with Sunday’s festivities is more than double compared to last year. The 300-plus troops will be positioned at several locations, including McCarran International Airport. A legislative committee approved almost $357,000 to cover the cost.
The control center for the show, located at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, will be staffed by officials from Clark County’s building and fire prevention department, fire department, police, Federal Aviation Administration, the fireworks company, and organizers. Wind conditions are monitored. Sustained wind speeds that exceed 10 miles per hour can lead to the show’s cancellation.
The expected visitation figures provided by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show a drop of 1.2per cent compared to last year.
Visitors are expected to spend $254.3million. More than 97 percent of the city’s nearly 149,000 hotel and motel rooms are expected to be booked.
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