Expect significant Orlando police presence for New Year’s Eve, retired chief says

Extra police patrols, extra club security expected

ORLANDO, Fla. – Businesses and police are getting ready to say hello to 2023 in downtown Orlando, and that means crowds, celebrations and security.

The orange ball drop has been a New Year’s Eve tradition in Orlando’s downtown for about 25 years, according to Peter Ghalam, the district manager for Church Street Entertainment.

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He told News 6 at his three bars, Chillers, Cahoots, and High Tide, there will be security for Saturday night.

“We have our own security team in-house and we also bring in (Orlando Police Dept.) officers, so we have a very, very well-thought through security plan; we like to keep everybody safe in the downtown,” said Ghalam.

With many expected to celebrate in Orlando’s downtown we spoke with our News 6′s law enforcement expert, Orlando Rolón, the now-retired Orlando police chief.

“I could assure you that the city, historically, has done everything in their power to make sure that they’re providing a safe environment for people,” Rolón said.

Rolón said people should expect to see a significant police presence.

“A lot of the merchants, a lot of businesses, higher extra officers to be part of that security component,” said Rolón. He added that there will likely be officers in uniform, and others walking around in plain clothes.

The Orlando Police Department issued this statement Friday:

As with any large-scale event, the Orlando Police Department takes the safety and security of our residents and visitors very seriously and are working with our law enforcement partners to keep our community safe. While we don’t discuss specific security measures, we always plan and staff each event appropriately to provide proper public safety and assess the needs of the event to make any necessary security modifications.

We will have increased patrol officers on-duty, as well as numerous officers working at venues and businesses that will be hosting visitors and events. Our Mounted Unit, Downtown and International Drive Bike Units, Motors Unit and many other department resources will be employed to keep people safe during the New Year’s Eve festivities.

The city of Orlando has tightened procedures with regard to downtown area nightlife over the past year, including implementing access points to particular downtown areas where police can check for illegal weapons. The move was the result of a July shooting in downtown Orlando that injured nine people.

At the time, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the city normally used the access points for large events, and was now expanding it to weekends.

Have a plan ahead of time

Still, Rolón says people should come up with a plan ahead of time on where to go if something happens and you become separated from your group.

A scare of some kind caused a panic at the Fireworks at the Fountain event at Lake Eola in July, with people running to get away from the area. About a dozen people were injured and some people became separated from their groups.

“When you get there, look at the escape areas. Where are your emergency exits. I’m not asking you to be paranoid, but your safety should be your number one priority,” said News 6′s Trooper Steve Montiero on Friday.

Back in July we asked Trooper Steve what you should do to stay safe in a big crowd. Here is what he said.

Trooper Steve Montiero said there are steps that families and individuals can take in advance of any event to help them mitigate any potential danger they might face.

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About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.