Police ramp up for New Year’s Eve | AspenTimes.com

Police ramp up for New Year’s Eve

Joel Stonington

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN The Aspen Police Department is increasing staffing significantly to cope with what it has called increasingly dangerous New Year’s Eve celebrations downtown.Aspen called out help from Basalt, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County to the extent that 30 officers and 20 paid security will be on duty New Year’s Eve.”We have had this problem develop on New Year’s Eve over the past few years,” APD Sgt. Bill Linn said. “Chaos reigns. We’re always so dramatically outnumbered that lots of bad things have gone on. Last year it was so bad and so dangerous that we were directed from the top echelons of the city that this needs to be addressed.”Aspen fills up on New Year’s Eve, with people spilling out of bars into the streets. Though the city does not put on a fireworks display, private displays have lit up the night sky in the past. This year, a private display is planned for an area up Independence Pass though it is unknown if it will be visible from the city. Brad Onsgard, school resource officer for the Aspen police, said parents shouldn’t let kids tell them they’re going into town to watch the fireworks, as there aren’t any officially planned. He said the department will be ticketing for curfew violations.Anyone under 18 without an adult escort between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. is eligible for a ticket. The summons to court is for both parent and child, and the fine can be up to $1,000.”We will be enforcing any laws we see violated,” Onsgard said. “Find something for your child to do if they are under 18.”Because the jail has seen overcrowding in the past, The Right Door is setting up a detox area in the old youth center – what is now a conference room near the jail. Volunteers will cover the floor and furniture with plastic. “I guess it’s a drunk tank; it’s sort of a holding place for intoxicated individuals,” Onsgard said. “They will leave with a ticket if they are underage, maybe one for curfew violation if they are under 18.”Linn said extra security and volunteers will help police keep the night safe. He said many police officers went home in the past wondering how there weren’t more injuries. While some have asked for a zero-tolerance policy, Linn doesn’t believe that will be the case. “It just doesn’t fit the way policing is done around here to do zero tolerance,” Linn said. “But we will be doing more enforcement than in years gone by.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com