Las Vegas NYE celebration deemed higher risk for Homeland Securi - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Las Vegas NYE celebration deemed higher risk for Homeland Security

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Fireworks explode above the Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher) Fireworks explode above the Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Clark County leaders said they expect 320,000 people to be ringing in the new year in Las Vegas, and for people used to the Strip on Dec. 31, this year may look a little different.

"Nobody puts on a New Year's Eve like Las Vegas, and never will it be as safe as it is this year," Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said in a press conference Wednesday. 

A huge reason for the changes this year is because the Department of Homeland Security raised 'America's Party' from a SEAR 3 to a SEAR 1. SEAR stands for Special Event Assessment Rating. SEAR looks at events and determines the potential threats for terrorism or criminal activity. SEAR's range from three to one, with three being the lowest and one being the highest. 

Sheriff Lombardo reiterated multiple times that despite the heightened threat risk, there were no current credible threats. But the federal government is still stepping in to help out Metro and their first responders to heighten security this New Year's Eve, he said.

"The federal government will be bringing in additional air assets to assist us in that surveillance," Lombardo said.

Beyond the surveillance, the government will also be sending in more intelligence personnel to help monitor social media. Additionally, there will be changes to how and where Metro Officers are stationed. 

"Metro has added spotters and snipers, and strike teams capable of entering hotel properties," Sisolak said. 

In total, there will be more than 1,500 Metro officers working New Year's Eve, as well as double the normal amount of National Guard troops. Metro police also said they are partnering with UBER this NYE, to not only assist with people who are overly intoxicated but to also have UBER drivers serve as extra eyes and ears for officers. 

In previous years, nearly 98 percent of the hotel rooms in Las Vegas were booked for New Year's. With the inflow of people coming into Strip hotels and casinos, a hotel security expert discussed precautions they too should be taking. 

"The debate is not about guns getting into hotels, it;s about training our staff," Mac Segal a hotel security expert with AS solutions said. "We need to be training hotel employees to be looking for suspicious behavior. (We need to be) training what we should notice, what are we looking for, and what are we doing as a whole company to keep people safe all the way from house cleaning to reception."

Mac Segal said he travels around the world advising hotels on how to update their security, and does the same thing for hotels in Las Vegas. Segal would not comment on what hotels he has worked with in Clark County. He said while people may be hesitant about Vegas following 1 October, they need to remember that an instance like that is extremely rare. 

"You are 1,000 times more likely to die from being in a car crash than being in a hostile situation," he said. "But I would advise people, have your wits about you. If you are out, or in a nightclub, look around and see where the emergency exits are so if, god forbid, something happens, you have a plan."

No matter the preparation taken by first responders, government or casinos, Metro said their department can't do any of it without the public's help.

"Law enforcement cannot do this alone, so we are asking you to be aware. Nothing is too small to say something," Lombardo said. "Remember the theme, 'if you see something, say something.'"

Segal said while Metro's theme is good, there's more the public could be doing to prevent emergencies.

"The next evolution of 'If you see something say something' is to educate everybody 'if you see what, tell who.'"

Similar to previous years are the banned items on the Strip, including backpacks, strollers, bottles and glass. 

Metro Police released the following road closure information for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. 

Downtown/Fremont Street Experience:

  • 4:00 p.m. – The Fremont Street Experience will be closed to the public.
  • 6:00 p.m. – The Fremont Street Experience gates open for entertainment.

Las Vegas Blvd (Strip) Closure Information:

Throughout the evening, East-West travel on Sahara Avenue, Mandalay Bay Road, Desert Inn Road, Frank Sinatra Drive, Koval Lane, Russell Road, US95 and I-215 will remain unrestricted.

Harmon Avenue/Bridge will be limited to vehicle traffic from the West leading to City Center to hotels guests only. Vehicle traffic on Harmon Avenue, East of Las Vegas Boulevard, will be limited to hotel properties.

Below is a schedule of the anticipated road closures and re-openings:

  • 5:00 p.m. -- Closing of off-ramps from I-15 onto eastbound Tropicana Avenue, Flamingo Road and Spring Mountain Road by NHP/NDOT begins.
  • 5:45 p.m. -- The closing of all other streets, roads and alleys leading Westbound onto Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara Avenue and Mandalay Bay Road from Koval Lane will begin.
  • 6:00 p.m. -- All streets, roads and alleys leading onto Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara Avenue and Mandalay Bay Road will be closed with all barricades in place.
  • 6:15 p.m. -- LVMPD Traffic Officers begin clearing all vehicular traffic off Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara Avenue and Mandalay Bay Road.
  • 6:45 p.m. -- Las Vegas Boulevard along with all inbound roads leading onto Las Vegas Boulevard are fully closed to vehicle traffic.
  • 6:45 p.m. -- All moving walkways, elevators and escalators leading to or crossing Las Vegas Boulevard will be shut off.
  • Approximately 6:45 p.m. -- Las Vegas Boulevard fully opens to pedestrian traffic. Eff. 12-18-17
  • 12:00 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. -- Fireworks show takes place on the Strip and Fremont Street

LAS VEGAS BOULEVARD (STRIP) RE-OPENING INFORMATION

  • Approximately 12:15 a.m. -- All moving walkways, elevators and escalators leading to or crossing Las Vegas Boulevard will resume operation.
  • Approximately 1:30 a.m. -- All celebrations normally subside. Barricade removal begins.
  • Approximately 2:00 a.m. -- Street sweepers begin clean up, working from South to North.
  • Approximately 3:30 a.m. – Reopening of off-ramps from I-15 onto Eastbound Tropicana Avenue, Flamingo Road and Spring Mountain Road by NHP/NDOT begins. All other streets, roads and alleys leading onto Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road will begin re-opening.

NOTE: Road closure times are approximate and subject to change without notice.

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