Long Beach : Police Try to Stop Gunshots Into Air on New Year's Eve

Police will be out in force on New Year's Eve in the central, downtown and western parts of Long Beach to try to stop people from firing their guns into the air.

Fifty officers from the Police Department's special metro division, which targets specific crimes, will patrol the three areas, said police Cmdr. Jim Stewart, who heads the metro division. "It's really getting out of hand. It's like a war zone out there," Stewart said.

Last year, the department received 168 calls about shots fired on Dec. 31, according to Stewart. No one was hurt by an errant bullet, although two people were shot by officers responding to calls about gunshots, police said. There were 16 arrests for shooting-related incidents, police said.

Police also have distributed flyers, in Spanish and English, advising residents of the dangers of shooting a firearm into the air and that it is against the law.

Sgt. Gary Halliday said no one group appears to be responsible for the practice of firing a gun to welcome in a new year. "There are a lot of people who are just gun nuts and who go out there and seem to think no one will get hurt (by their actions)," Halliday said.

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