HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — Helena-West Helena’s police department is focusing on how to make New Year’s Eve one to remember for all of the right reasons.
The city is rolling out a fleet of the bigger, faster, more up-to-date SUV’s for a high priority saturation beginning Friday, which is New Year’s Eve. A large scale law enforcement presence is promised on not only New Year’s Eve, but the entire weekend.
“We are going to have all of our officers working,” Corporal Wesley Smith of Helena-West Helena’s police department said. “From patrol and the investigative division, we’re also going to have assistance from the Arkansas State Police.”
The police chief and mayor have requested and received approval from Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas State Police for additional man power, but neither the state nor Mayor Kevin Smith would say exactly how many troopers will be in town.
“I can tell you it’s a large number, a sufficient number,” Mayor Smith said. “And I can tell you they won’t be just on the highways giving speeding tickets. They are going to be in our neighborhoods, patrolling with our own police officers.”
Mayor Smith said there are no public celebrations scheduled because of COVID restrictions, but he is concerned many revelers may be firing off guns at midnight-something officers will be watching and listening for.
“Just be on kind of a high alert when it comes to things like what I call terroristic shootings,” Mayor Smith said. “We have a lot of that around New Year’s and it terrifies our citizens.”
Corporal Smith said the city will be doing all they can to keep everyone safe during the holiday.
“We’re going to be checking for insurance and proper registrations,” he said. “We’re also going to be making sure people are wearing their seatbelts, and there’s not going to be any impaired driving.”
Helena-West Helena Police reminded citizens that it is against the law to shoot guns as a way to celebrate the new year.
They also said while fireworks are prohibited within the city, they are permitted within the Mississippi River Park east of the downtown levee.