It was another quiet New Year for the Whistler RCMP, which Sergeant Stephen Wright credits to a heavier police presence, and more awareness about their zero tolerance policy for drunken behaviour.
Just 35 people were arrested, almost all for being drunk in public. About half slept it off in Pemberton and half slept it off in Whistler. There was one arrest for possession for the purposes of trafficking, when police arrested someone with “a backpack full of drugs.”
“There were no assaults, no large and out of control house parties, and no major incidents that night,” said Sgt. Wright. “We had roadblocks out all night and there were no arrests of impaired drivers. Just three 24-hour suspensions were issued.”
The Whistler RCMP brought up another 60 officers from the Lower Mainland to complement their own force of 20 officers, and put them to work patrolling the village and local neighbourhoods.
“You couldn’t go five feet without running into an officer,” joked Wright.
Wright also gave high marks to local bars and clubs for keeping a lid on their parties.
“We worked with the bar association, and for the most part they did a great job preventing over-service,” said Wright. “The majority of issues with drunkenness were people coming from hotels in the village or coming in from the neighbourhoods. The organizers of the (First Night) event themselves put out a lot of positive publicity to let people know it was an alcohol-free event.”
The previous New Year, 2008, there were 40 arrests, up from 33 in 2007 and 21 in 2006. That’s still much lower than 2001, when over 106 arrests were made and papers in the Lower Mainland wrote that there was a “near riot” in the village because one window was broken by a snowball, a tree was damaged, and another person needed stitches after being hit by an ice chunk.