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Archive for Friday, January 1, 1999

T ALWAYS PARTY FOR POLICE

January 1, 1999

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While people party to welcome in the new year, police are making sure everyone behaves.

A police officer understands the job comes with its ups and downs, but New Year's Eve can offer up the extremes, from inebriated but overly jovial partiers to car crashes that end in injuries or fatalities.

David Anderson, a Lawrence police officer who has worked almost all of the past dozen New Year's Eves, said the holiday, known for its excesses of food and drink, doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be more work for officers.

"The only predictable thing tends to be the weather," Anderson said. "If it's nice out, it could be really bad because people will be out (at bars). On the other hand, if an ice storm hits, some people are going to be out on the roads no matter what and it could be worse."

Officers routinely respond to complaints of parties that continue into the new year or are too loud.

"I would generally say the party calls we go to, people tend to be pretty agreeable," Anderson said. "Everybody's in a good mood. They know that we know everyone's just trying to have some fun."

The flip side of the coin, however, is that New Year's Eve entices those who don't often -- or shouldn't -- drink to join the festivities.

"That's the ones that get into trouble," said Sgt. George Wheeler, referring to people under 21 and those who normally don't drink throughout the year.

The police department had two Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) vehicles on Lawrence roads Thursday night and this morning. Officers in the cars, regular police vehicles, are on patrol for drunken drivers.

"Obviously, all of the patrol officers will be enforcing traffic laws, but they will be leaning towards looking for intoxicated motorists," Sgt. Mark Warren said.

Anderson said one of his more memorable New Year's Eves while on duty happened in 1994, when a bunch of balloons coated with a metallic film hit power lines in the 800 block of Massachusetts. From about 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., power was out from Sixth to 11th streets downtown.

Packed bars emptied into the streets and people milled around after the outage locked up cash registers.

The lost business prompted one downtown bar owner -- who Anderson said will go nameless -- to plead with police.

"He wanted us to let him stay open an hour later because he lost business," Anderson said.

The request, Anderson noted, was denied.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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