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Police Say They’re Ready for Y2K, Rowdy Revelers

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With only a month to go, the city’s Police Department is preparing for New Year’s Eve celebrations by canceling vacation time for officers and having key officials on call.

Authorities are not expecting widespread problems in connection with Y2K, but traditionally New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of year for law enforcement agencies. This year’s millennium celebrations are expected to make the evening even busier.

“We’ll be ready,” Seal Beach Capt. John Schaeffer said. “We have . . . three times our normal [staff].”

The city is not planning any special events but the Police Department is preparing for problems such as increased traffic, blackouts and heavy celebrations.

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“If Pacific Coast Highway goes dark,” Schaeffer said, “we’ll be ready.”

The Public Works Department has held several meetings with police and the city manager’s office to make sure all systems are operational, and officials and staff from the department will be on call, ready to guide and control traffic.

Police officials also met with county officials monthly for almost a year to prepare for other potential problems, such as people reacting irrationally to blackouts or other usual new year irregularities.

Schaeffer’s biggest concern is guns.

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“We have it every year. . . . People who go crazy and shoot in the air,” he said. “I hope that people will remain calm.”

County officials from different departments will monitor the county from the Emergency Operations Center at Loma Ridge in Silverado Canyon, arriving early on Dec. 31 to check TV newscasts for any Y2K problems reported in other countries.

The Sheriff’s Department could call upon the city’s Police Department to provide aid for other cities, and Schaeffer said he has been in contact with the Los Alamitos Police Department to coordinate response on a local level. However, the department’s priority will be dealing with any problems in Seal Beach, Schaeffer said.

“We have also been in contact with the businesses, the downtown bars and restaurants,” Schaeffer said. “We don’t have anything that extreme but we’re working with them.”

The city is not planning any special events or fireworks display, and the beach will close at 10 p.m. Dec. 31. However, the pier will stay open for those who want to see the fireworks in Long Beach.

“I’m hoping we’ll do well,” Schaeffer said. “It should be a very safe New Year’s Eve.”

Louise Roug can be reached at (714) 966-5977.


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