OKC Police Step Up Security For New Year's Eve Celebrations

Thursday, December 31st 2015, 5:36 pm
By: News 9

The majority of this year’s Opening Night festivities presented by the Arts Council will be centered around Bicentennial Park, with activities planned inside and outside the Civic Center Music Hall, Oklahoma City Museum of Art and City Hall.

There is a 5K planned, a fireworks show at midnight, and of course the raising of the mirrored ball to ring in the New Year.

In years past, Opening Night was hosted at both the Oklahoma City Convention Center and the Myriad Gardens. But Christina Foss, with the Oklahoma City Arts Council, says last year, it was moved to the Civic Center Music Hall.

The venue change has everything consolidated in a smaller area than years past to reduce walking distances between events. And police will have a presence both in the air and on the ground during the celebrations.

“We do shut down the roads around the even,” said Foss. “It’s always nice to have the venues closer together so people don't have to walk as far outside. I think that makes people feel safer too.”

Vendors in Bricktown are getting ready for the rush of people going to tonight's Thunder basketball game. Add to that all of the other New Year’s celebrations planned and downtown is expected to be packed. But police have been preparing for the crowds for weeks.

“Generally for Opening Night, like other large events downtown, we have additional personnel,” said Capt. Bobby Tompkins with the Oklahoma City Police Department Bricktown station.

“We bring in plain-clothed officers. We bring in specialized units standing by in case something happens. And we have a lot of uniform presence as well.”

Police will have a presence both on the ground and in the air along Bicentennial park this year, for all of Friday night's opening night activities. Security has been a big concern ever since the terror attacks happened in Paris in November and then in San Bernadino in December.

And even though there have been terror threats made against some capital cities around the world, Tompkins says there have been none made here at home.

“We have no credible threats as of right now going into tonight, and hopefully it will stay that way,” said Tompkins.

Foss says the Arts Council has been working with Oklahoma City police for months on their Opening Night security plan. And as a result, they have reduced the walking distances between all of their New Year’s Eve activities.

“We want our attendees to feel safe and welcome,” said Foss.

Police say if you see anything suspicious, call 911.

Wristbands for Opening Night are still available. They are $10 per person and are available at 7-11 and Homeland Stores, as well as MidFirst bank locations. They are also available on site at the Civic Center Music Hall.