COVID and security: Safety first at Portland NYE parties

Coronavirus

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s New Year’s Eve. Time for parties. Time for police patrols and beefed up private security and proof of vaccination at certain venues.

Business owners hosting celebrations have increasingly turned to using private security for their venue. But Portland police officials don’t have a position on the increased use of security guards at sites.

“The whole private security issue, we don’t have a position on it right now,” PPB Sgt. Kevin Allen told KOIN 6 News. “We don’t regulate that industry and so it’s not something we are going to delve into it.”

Echelon Protective Services is one of the private security companies used by local businesses. In a statement to KOIN 6 News, co-owner Reid Kerr said:

“While most security first follow a law enforcement-centric model and often try to act like the police, Echelon has a fundamentally different mindset and business model. We are not the police nor do we want to be. Our officers are not meant to replace the police but rather to support their efforts and provide additional resources where needed.”

Regardless, New Year’s Eve is always a busy night for the police.

“It can be challenging. We do let people know that during times of heavy call load, or if there is a significant event that takes up a lot of resources that our response time is going to be longer,” Allen said. “So we always ask our community to be patient with us.”

Portland Police Association President Aaron Schmautz said New Year’s Eve is, essentially, no different than any other night.

“We simply don’t have enough police officers in Portland. There will be all hands on deck tonight, as far as, I’m sure they are trying to fill their minimums, but we just do not have as many police officers and the specialty units,” Schmautz told KOIN 6 News. “When you look at the downtown core historically, we had an entertainment detail that managed the nightlife industry down there. I did that work for years, you know. Those relationships were vital and that team does not exist anymore.”

But the parties are going on in Portland’s entertainment district and elsewhere. Some places, like Breakside Brewery, opted to close early. Others like River Pig Saloon  will have a ticketed party that is about half-capacity from previous years.

QuarterWorld NYE extravaganza tickets

At QuarterWorld, employees spent the day prepping for the big balloon drop at midnight. It’s their first New Year’s Eve celebration since the pandemic and this year there is a proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test as a requirement for entry.

“We are super excited we are able to do this tonight,” said QuarterWorld owner Logan Bowden. “This is the first time we’ve had a new years show since everything shut down.”

Bowden said they are ready to keep their guests in a celebratory mood.

“We’ve got food for bellies: smashburgers, pizza,” he said. “We have a champagne cocktail.”

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