2013 came in with a bang in Spokane with two shootings -- one of them fatal -- just after midnight last year. This year, Spokane Police are taking no chances to make sure the community rings in 2014 safely.
New Year's Eve has become a blackout day for the Spokane Police Department; no vacation time for officers in part because First Night Spokane has become such a safe and popular event and police want to keep it that way.
The city has 16 police officers assigned to just the First Night activities and 25 more patrol officers responding to calls for service.
In deciding who would be pulling the New Year's Eve shift, police command staff members wanted some of their SWAT-trained officers on duty as well as their K-9 officers as well as some undercover officers.
The department's mission is to have such a high profile downtown that no one would want to cause any problems and if something does happen, they will nip it in the bud before an isolated incident can be a catalyst for something on a larger scale.
"So between police and security we should have somebody on just about every block, and if you start something we're going to nip it as fast as we can and keep anything from escalating and keep this event safe," Spokane Police Sergeant J.D. Anderson said.
Keeping watch from above will be Air One, the sheriff's department's helicopter. Volunteer pilots, most of them former military, ferry around two deputies who man a forward looking infrared camera and a 30-million candle power spotlight. Last New Year's Eve deputies aboard Air One spotted a homicide suspect after a fatal shooting over by Spokane Community College.
The Washington State Patrol will also have its Target Zero Program running Tuesday evening. There are five state troopers led by a sergeant who will be looking to take drivers under the influence off the road.
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