ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – It’s almost time to ring in the new year and with many celebrations happening across Southwest Virginia, multiple law enforcement agencies are stepping up security to ensure people stay safe while enjoying the holiday.
Downtown Roanoke is gearing up to ring in the new year with the 7th annual Big Lick Downtown Countdown on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
The Roanoke Police Department is planning on increasing their staffing with extra officers at the event, as well as hoping to keep roads and streets clear of drunk drivers by encouraging people to use ride-sharing apps, taxi cabs, and using designated drivers.
One campaign is pushing efforts to prevent drunk driving not just in Southwest Virginia, but across the Commonwealth.
Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign is part of a research-based, zero-tolerance program to get impaired drivers off the roads. With approximately 98 law enforcement agencies, including local and Virginia State Police, the initiative will operate checkpoints and saturation patrols along with encouraging education about the dangers and consequences of driving while intoxicated. The initiative has been funded by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles since 2001.
Although Virginia has seen a decline in drunk driving instances over the past couple of decades, officials have noticed a recent increase within the last year.
“In 2018, Virginia recorded a 12% increase in drunk driving deaths and there’s not a part in the Commonwealth that’s immune, unfortunately, from these trends,” says Kurt Erickson, President and CEO of Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign.
Several other local law enforcement agencies already have plans in place for the New Year’s Eve celebrations:
- Roanoke County Police Department – Authorities will have extra cars over normal staffing for evening and midnight shifts. The DUI Task Force will also be out.
- Lynchburg Police Department – Authorities will be active in the city all night to ensure a safe atmosphere. They are also reminding residents that discharging a firearm is illegal in the city of Lynchburg and should not be part of any celebration.
- Danville Police Department – Although there will be no additional staffing, authorities will be closely monitoring areas for any unwanted situations. Like LPD, they are also reminding residents that discharging a firearm is illegal in the city of Danville and should not be part of any celebration.
- Bedford County Sheriff’s Office – Authorities will have normal staffing on New Year’s Eve.
- Blacksburg Police Department – Since there are no city-sponsored events, authorities will not have an increase in staffing. However, officers will be on standby in the event of any unwanted situations.