Upstate law enforcement talk safety on New Year’s Eve

(WSPA) – While people hit the streets on New Year’s Eve, law enforcement will be watching closely.

Spartanburg Police are expecting more people especially downtown.

“With the lights and everything, it’s a really pretty place out here,” said Skating on the Square Assistant Manager Nancye Edwards. They’ll be open until Midnight New Year’s Eve. “It’s definitely a fun place to have that welcoming the new year kiss or whatever you want to do.”

Whatever the plans, Spartanburg Police say officers are ready.

“We encourage you to have fun in out city but do it safely and do it responsibly,” said Lt. Tim Metz. “We have officers that are designated to the downtown – they’ll be on foot. They’ll be on bicycles.”  

He says people can play a part in their own safety, too, by keeping valuables out of plain sight in their vehicles, and walking in groups. He said if alcohol becomes involved, responsibility is especially crucial.

“Although you may not feel intoxicated, if you’ve had a drink or two, chances are your abilities are impaired,” said Lt. Metz. “We definitely encourage people to use designated drivers and to drink responsibly if they chose to consume alcohol but ultimately our goal is to make sure that people have a good time, act responsibly and make it home safely. “

South Carolina Highway Patrol says in 2016 over a thousand people lost their lives on state highways, and almost 50 percent of those deaths are alcohol related.

“We’ll be doing checkpoints and we’ll be beefing up our DUI enforcement,” said SC Highway Patrol L/Cpl Joe Hovis. “

Highway Patrol’s Sober or Slammer campaign is still in effect through New Year’s Day.

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“There’s so much technology right now where you don’t have to drink and drive – there’s Uber, there’s lyft, there’s cab companies – there’s a sober designated driver, but you need to have that plan before you go out,” said Trooper Hovis.

It’s a message echoed by law enforcement as communities countdown to 2018.

“It’s always nice to see them [officers] and know that they’re here watching and keeping everybody safe,” said Edwards.

Spartanburg Police say the parking garages are well lit but officers will still be patrolling them in marked and unmarked vehicles.

They also want to remind residents that fireworks are prohibited in the city limits of Spartanburg.

The City of Greenville does not have a ban on fireworks.

The Greenville County Sheriff’s office says it’s traffic unit will be out on New Year’s Eve watching for speeders, drunk drivers, and other traffic violations.

The sheriff’s office says as of December 17th, there have been 81 fatalities in Greenville County.