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NYE in a pandemic: How valley police departments are preparing to enforce this year


The year 2021 is embraced with open arms as people bid good riddance to a very difficult 2020. But despite the traditional way of ringing in the new year with family, friends and celebrations, a stay-at-home order is still in effect as the state of California and Riverside County deal with skyrocketing hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Many valley police departments are gearing up for the holiday. The Indio Police department will beef up patrols, and depending on the circumstances, officers may break up certain gatherings they come across, according to Indio Police Department spokesperson, Benjamin Guitron.

"We’re going to address it. We’re going to look at the circumstances and look at what’s the best thing to do and we hope that people understand if we have to get to that point, the best thing is to stop what you’re doing, adhere to the orders and think of your health and the health of others," said Guitron.

The Desert Hot Springs Police Department will also be taking a similar approach by sticking with what they've done since the start of the pandemic.

"If we get a call, a complaint about a large party, and it may be someone may call in and complain about the large party because of COVID restrictions or because of the noise. Either way we will respond and again we’re using education and looking for voluntary compliance from folks," said Deputy Chief Steven Shaw with Desert Hot Springs Police Department.

Law enforcement has also advised the public to refrain from drinking and driving, setting off fireworks, and firing guns.

Fines vary across the valley, but if someone is caught using illegal fireworks in Desert Hot Springs "there is a $1000 fine if someone is caught shooting off a firework that we will issue to those folks," said Shaw.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which is contracted out in some valley cities, said "our agency will be conducting business as usual, responding to emergency calls for service as they are made. If the call for service is an emergency, we encourage citizens to call '911.'"

The Palm Springs Police Department, Indio, and Desert Hot Springs all planned to add additional patrols for the night.

PSPD released this statement to News Channel 3:

PSPD, along with the community we serve, wants to get through this pandemic and holiday in the safest manner possible. We will address COVID-19 issues in the same manner we have since this pandemic began impacting our community. Education, warnings, and enforcement are the options we have available to address these issues and we will continue to use these options accordingly. Overall, our community has consistently been responsible and supportive of our efforts. We will respond to reports of violations when appropriate and will monitor all types of prohibited activity throughout the City in an effort to keep our community safe as we ring in the New Year. Staffing contingencies are in place as they are with any large weekend impacting our city. 

Cathedral City Police did not respond to News Channel 3's request for comment.

Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.


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