Pelham Police planning for hectic New Year’s weekend

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham Police Department is planning to put more officers on the road during what could be one of the city’s busiest New Year’s weekends, according to Pelham Police Lt. Davy Lott.

Throughout the weekend, the department will add additional manpower to its patrols, and will be on the lookout for drunk, speeding or reckless drivers.

“We will be beefing up patrols in many parts of the city. Our biggest concern is safety,” Lott said. “We will probably set up a checkpoint somewhere to do sobriety checks, but we haven’t finalized that yet.

“Setting up a checkpoint has a lot to do with the weather. We want to make sure we can set one up in a safe location,” Lott added. “We really just leave that decision up to the supervisors on shift.”

Although many associate the New Year’s holiday with rivers of alcohol and a corresponding high number of drunken driving arrests, the past few years have brought a decrease in the number of alcohol-related incidents, Lott said.

“The last few years haven’t been as bad as some years in the past,” Lott said. “I’m not really sure what the reason is, other than that people may be more educated. Maybe fewer people are going out and partying.”

But because New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, Lott said the department is planning for a busier-than-normal weekend.

“Last year, New Year’s Eve was on a Thursday, so it wasn’t too terribly busy,” Lott said. “But it very well could be a different story this year, there’s no doubt about that.”

In addition to drunken driving cases, Lott said another type of incident floods the department’s phone lines every year.

Since 1988, it has been illegal for Pelham residents to shoot fireworks inside the city limits, but the law does not stop many New Year’s revelers.

“The biggest thing we do every New Year’s is respond to calls about fireworks,” Lott said. “Of course, you shouldn’t be shooting off fireworks in the city limits. But we still get tons of calls about them.”

Lott also said the department responds to many alcohol-fueled domestic incidents throughout the holiday season.

“Those (domestic disturbances) happen throughout the holiday season,” he said. “Anytime you’ve got a situation where people are together and drinking, you get calls like that.”