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Savannah-Chatham police offer safety tips for New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2015

As New Year’s Eve approaches, residents can expect the Savannah-Chatham police along with the Georgia State Patrol to increase their presence throughout the area to help with safety and other issues for the holiday.

Thousands of attendees are expected at the Waterfront Association’s Annual Up the Cup event and fireworks display on River Street, said Eunicia Baker, police spokeswoman.

Police will increase foot patrols downtown and will close River Street to motorists to accommodate large crowds, Baker said.

Police caution citizens to be aware of their surroundings during the holiday festivities.

“Unfortunately, whenever large crowds gather, criminals may use the opportunity to take advantage of the unsuspecting,” said Maj. Larry Branson.

In addition, police stress that members of the public should be proactive to keep themselves and fellow citizens safe by using several key practices and considerations, Baker said.

Officials recommend traveling in groups along well-lighted and highly populated routes, securing valuables at home or out of view in vehicles, putting their purses in front of their body and placing wallets in front pockets.

Police also warn against drinking and driving. Savannah-Chatham police made five arrests for driving under the influence on New Year’s Day 2015.

Individuals who are planning to drink alcohol away from home should appoint designated drivers and use taxi services or public transportation to travel between destinations.

In addition, motorists should use caution and patience when navigating through areas with lots of foot traffic and areas where pedestrians often consume alcohol.

Police want to remind citizens that celebratory gunfire is illegal and poses a serious threat to the public. On New Year’s Eve 2014, police received 23 ShotSpotter notifications between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. and responded to 78 reports of discharging firearms, Baker said.

“Despite the risk, there are those who view celebrating the new year by firing shots into the air as a tradition rooted in fun, though it’s really a practice that puts us all in danger,” Branson said. “We’re asking the community to be our eyes and ears. If this type of activity is witnessed, report it immediately. Those caught doing this can expect consequences.”

At minimum, illegally discharging a firearm could result in misdemeanor charges.

Under state law, the use of consumer fireworks is prohibited after 2 a.m. Children should never handle fireworks without adults present, Baker said.

Savannah Now