Police set up special patrols

December 30, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Whether the year 2000 decides to come in with a bang or a yawn, area law enforcement agencies are gearing up.

Some predict that many Americans will stay home tonight because of terrorist threats and Y2K fears, but police and fire departments throughout the Tri-State area aren't taking chances.

"There will be 36 Hagerstown City Police officers working the 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift," said Lt. Gary Spielman. "That compares with about 11 on a normal night."

Maryland State Police in Hagerstown will be fully staffed, with some troopers from special units coming for patrol duties, said Sgt. G.R. Turano.


"There will be 40-48 troopers spread through three shifts," Turano said. "I have no insight into what might occur. But hopefully, we will be prepared."

Sgt. Jesse Zorger said the Chambersburg barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police will stagger shifts to maximize personnel.

"Friday we will have people coming in at 3, 4 and 6 p.m. and then others starting at 10, 10:30 and 11 p.m.," Zorger said. "That will be about the twice the normal number working that shift."

Those officers will patrol throughout Franklin County and respond to calls.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Department is taking steps to work with the state police, said Sheriff Robert Wollyung.

"I will have two officers on standby to assist the state police if needed," Wollyung said.

In Martinsburg, W.Va., both fire and police officials are taking steps.

"I expect the ambulances to be busy," said Lt. Steve Canby, noting that three medic units are available for calls.

New Year's Eve traditionally is a busy night for fire and ambulance personnel, Canby said.

"But we will be prepared with extra people for the unknown," Canby said.

Chief Ted Anderson of the Martinsburg City Police said about 12 officers will work through the transition from 1999 to 2000.

"That's about double normal manpower," Anderson said. "We don't expect too many problems but we will be visible and ready."

In case of Y2K-related problems, police urge drivers to be vigilant.

If power is out at an intersection, drivers should treat the area as if it were a four-way stop, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Other systems such as railroad crossings have been tested and shouldn't be a problem, SHA officials said.

Also of major concern on any New Year's Eve will be motorists on the highways who have had too much to drink.

Police say partygoers should limit their use of alcohol and choose a designated driver before the partying begins. Patrols will be looking for impaired drivers.

This will be a CARE weekend, Combined Accident Reduction Effort, in which police focus on safe highways.

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