WHEELING - Ohio Valley law enforcers anticipate a relatively quiet New Year's Eve, saying the number of partygoers has dwindled as the years have passed, and those who do engage in revelry have become tamer.
Wheeling Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball said the department annually increases its patrol on New Year's Eve to respond to an increased volume of calls.
"New Year's Eve is obviously an important night to a lot of people who like to go out," Kimball noted. "Unfortunately, some celebrate in excess."
Photo by Tyler Reynard
Wheeling Police Officer Ryan Ferrell prepares to administer a breathalyzer exam at police headquarters.
He anticipates officers will encounter domestic disputes, people who are drunk in public and those who are drunk behind the wheel of an automobile, among other law breakers.
Kimball, a 31-year veteran of the Wheeling Police Department, said while officers respond to more calls on New Year's Eve than any other night of the year, the holiday has become subdued. He expects that trend to continue this year, especially because the holiday falls on a Monday - regardless of how many have Tuesday off from work.
New Year's Eve nationwide, however, continues to get the reputation of being "Amateur Night" because of the number of people who imbibe only on Dec. 31. That can lead to some intoxicated individuals displaying some erratic, and potentially dangerous behavior, Kimball pointed out.
"It's understandable that people want to have a good time," he offered, "but they have to realize that they are responsible for their actions. And the Wheeling Police Department will step up our enforcement efforts to curb any dangerous behavior."
Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler said his department will have the regular number of deputies patrolling rural roads on Monday night and Tuesday morning.
In his 13th year with the department and beginning his second consecutive term as sheriff on Tuesday, Butler said the New Year's Eve celebration in the county has been reserved in recent years.
He pointed out that the majority of celebration spots are located in city areas, but also said he believes more people are celebrating at home or appointing a designated driver.
"The price of a cab costs nothing compared to the price of a DUI," Butler noted.
Police in Steubenville only made three arrests on New Year's Eve last year. Capt. John Young, a 32-year veteran of the Steubenville Police Department, said last year's arrest numbers are dwarfed by the amount of calls that officers responded to years ago.
He said the ongoing decline in population the city has suffered correlates directly with the decrease in those celebrating the holiday. Young cited less bars and restaurants in the city as factors contributing to the relatively calm New Year's Eve atmosphere, as well.
The veteran officer also gave credit to wise partygoers who have heeded the following advice: "If you do go out, have a designated driver. Have a good time, but remember to get home safe and start the new year off right."
According to AAA, New Year's Eve consistently ranks as the year's deadliest day for alcohol-related fatalities.