December 30, 2021 - 10:21 am
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak authorized 200 members of the state’s National Guard to deploy among the crowds expected Friday night in Las Vegas as the city rings in a new year.
Sisolak thanked the guardsmen during a meeting Thursday for their help, particularly for assistance rendered during the pandemic when the military unit was deployed to help with COVID testing and vaccinations. He said residents feel safer when they see the green camouflage at large events.
“New Year’s Eve is a worldwide celebration, and in Las Vegas we’re expecting several hundred thousand people here,” Sisolak said. “People get a little out of hand. They overindulge in certain areas. They’re not always on their best behavior. … When they see that uniform, there’s a sense of security.”
Commander Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry said the Guard has helped the Metropolitan Police Department protect the Strip and downtown Las Vegas on New Year’s for more than two decades. They rely on Metro to determine where they will be stationed.
“A lot of people who are police officers, they’re also in the National Guard,” he said. “Pairing up a Metro officer with the National Guard, that’s what we train. A lot of the skillsets and equipment is interdependent on each other. It’s not unusual to see them working together.”
Metro Sgt. Timothy Frederick, who works in the event planning unit, thanked the guardsmen and reviewed some of the plan for Friday night.
“On behalf of Metro, thank you for your help,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without you.”
Brig. Gen. John Week encouraged the troops to take photos and enjoy the crowds. He gave one warning: “Don’t touch anybody. Don’t shoot anybody.”
“Everybody’s a friend. We are ambassadors for the state of Nevada for everybody here celebrating. The public by and large has a very positive perception of the National Guard.”
After the speeches, Sisolak told reporters that despite many other cities canceling New Year’s Eve festivities, he is working on balancing health amid the pandemic with Las Vegas’ dependency on tourism.
“It’s a tough thing to balance the economy and the safety,” he said. “We’re trying to keep people as safe as we can, and the best way to do that is to get vaccinated and get boosted. At the same time, we need to keep our economy moving and these hotels rooms filled so people can work and have a job.”
For full coverage of New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas, visit lvrj.com/NYE.