BERLIN – Berlin’s mayor has asked town staff to work with police to find ways to increase security at the next New Year’s Eve celebration.
The directive came after Councilman Thom Gulyas said he was approached by several residents who were concerned about the littering, public urination and other problems that occurred at the recent event.
“I do think we need to figure out a strategy that addresses the issue,” Mayor Gee Williams said.
Gulyas brought up the subject of New Year’s Eve Monday when the council was asked to approve the town’s list of annual events that would include alcohol. One of those was the New Year’s Eve ball drop.
“I was approached by a number of people that had complaints about New Year’s Eve,” Gulyas said. “I’m looking to the rest of you for guidance. These folks are concerned.”
When asked whether there had been any incidents during the Dec. 31 event, Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing indicated that there had been, although not as many as during some other town events.
“Whenever you have 3,000 people, you’re going to have incidents,” he said.
Williams said many of the problems associated with the downtown event had occurred just outside its borders.
“Some of these incidents happened outside the perimeter…,” he said. “That’s where we need an additional tactic.”
Williams pointed out that most of the event’s attendees did not cause problems.
“It sounds to me that out of 3,000 we had a dozen to 24 jerks,” he said.
Downing said one thing that might help would be the addition of more signs advising attendees that outside alcohol was not permitted. He added that his department didn’t get calls from concerned residents during the event.
“If you see a problem, call it in,” he said.
Williams said he wanted to make sure the town did what it could to address any issues with the ball drop because it was an event that had been created for residents. He said the idea was that they could simply walk downtown and celebrate New Year’s Eve without having to leave Berlin.
“If no guests come, no harm done,” he said. “This event is very much a locals’ event.”
Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director, said that while it was likely some people attending the ball drop snuck in a bottle of alcohol, she didn’t see any bringing coolers to the event. She attributed the littering and other problems associated with this year’s celebration to teenagers.
“What I did notice was a lot of teens walking around stirring things up,” she said.
Williams agreed that young people caused most of the trouble.
“Everybody has to be responsible for their kids,” he said. “That’s just the way it is. I think we’re doing everything we can to provide a healthy, safe, uplifting environment.”
Nevertheless, he asked Downing to work with town staff to come up with security improvements for the 2017 ball drop.