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Casino leaders call for more security on the Las Vegas Strip

By Christina Silva

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:24 a.m. HST, Mar 30, 2012

LAS VEGAS » The Las Vegas Strip, with its fatal bar brawls, sticky sidewalks and pushy panhandlers, is in dire need of a public safety makeover, according to casino executives and government leaders who want to use surveillance cameras, an increased police presence and regular street cleanings to improve the image of Nevada's adult playground.

In all, eight executives representing Las Vegas' wealthiest casinos put forward 32 recommendations this week aimed at preserving the Strip for the millions of tourists who support Nevada's fragile economy. Government leaders called for the recommendations last year after a rash of alcohol-fueled killings and violent crimes raised public safety concerns.

"We spend millions of taxpayers' dollars on advertising, keeping the Strip clean, doing our best to become one of the world's biggest attractions because of the beautiful resorts that we have here," said Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly. "And when people do their homework and their research on Las Vegas, we put pretty pictures out there, and we don't want someone's vision of what they believe Las Vegas to be, this beautiful mirage in the desert, to turn into 'Nightmare on Elm Street.'"

More than 38.9 million tourists visited Las Vegas last year, and the dollars they spent are driving Nevada's long awaited economic recovery. The state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12.7 percent, and most jobs are tied to the tourism industry in some way.

Under the policy plan, government officials would direct more police officers to the Strip, set up surveillance cameras to monitor suspicious activity, ban unlicensed vendors, and regularly power-wash the grime and alcohol left behind on Las Vegas' bustling tourist corridors after nights of uninhibited revelry. The most controversial proposal calls for restricting activities such as panhandling at certain times and locations along the Strip.

"There is some concern that if we are not able to do these things ... that ultimately we run the risk of it impacting our tourism base and ultimately limiting our ability to expand our tourism base as we begin to rebound as a community," said Don Burnette, manager for Clark County, the government that oversees the Strip.

Free speech activists say, however, that civil rights trump economic concerns.

Dane Claussen, director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Nevada, said free speech on public sidewalks is protected under the Constitution. The organization could take legal action against the county depending on how any new policies are crafted, he said.

"We don't sacrifice the First Amendment for the sake of maintaining tourism," Claussen said.

Las Vegas police already use traffic cameras installed at various intersections to monitor criminal activity. An expanded surveillance program would allow police to respond to crimes more quickly and effectively, Burnette said.

"It's not for intelligence gathering but it's to help get a better understanding of what's going on," he said. "People conjure up images of Big Brother, and that's not what it is about."

The proposals were drafted during 13 meetings spread out over six months. Among the Las Vegas power players backing the recommendations are executives from Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd., MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Boyd Gaming Corp.

The Clark County Commission is slated to discuss the recommendations next week. Local governments and casino officials will likely be asked to contribute to the costs of hiring more police officers and installing the cameras.

"You have to pay to play," Weekly said. "We've got to send a message out that this is not 'Animal House.'"

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HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Anyone made money in Las Vegas recently?
on March 30,2012 | 02:15AM
Bandibear wrote:
I know somebody who knows somebody that won once.
on March 30,2012 | 06:51AM
Halemaumau wrote:
My cousins friends brothers friends friend won a few bucks once... maybe last month or year or something like that. Maybe.
on March 30,2012 | 07:41PM
bullturd wrote:
Not me...I lost to help pay for the cleaning of the streets and sidewalks. It was worth it...I think?
on March 30,2012 | 05:14AM
nippy68 wrote:
i just came back from vegas recently and came to a conclusion that you will never win the megabucks unless all the machines make a significant amount of money.
on March 30,2012 | 06:52AM
mrluke wrote:
ACLU = American Criminal Lovers Union
on March 30,2012 | 07:56AM
kainalu wrote:
We're regular to Vegas. While we hope to hit it big, we don't really expect to. But it's not only about the gambling, it's about pampering ourselves too. Vegas is an entertainer's destination, so we go there to see concerts too - the last 2 being Eric Clapton and AC/DC. The MGM Grand is an excellent venue for concerts. While there are homeless panhanding, they're not the problem. The problem is the vendors that offer up the "free shows". You could get approached every 100 feet or so by one of these types. Of course, the shows are not "free" technically, you have to listen to some sort of sales pitch for a couple of hours or so. If I'm at Vegas, the last thing I want to do is attend some sort of seminar. We've dealt with some rowdy revelers, but you get the same thing in Waikiki or the Aloha Stadium, so ... . Viva Las Vegas! Baby!
on March 30,2012 | 08:02AM
9ronboz wrote:
lots of illegals on the streets trying to earn a buck
on March 30,2012 | 10:08AM
jthgrb wrote:
I hope that they learn from the Waikiki street vendor nightmare how to do this eviction right the first time. The cameras might make tourists uncomfortable, but then so do overbearing cops on the make. As the economy worsened, the number of vendors and scamers increased, human nature to survive. Las Vegas is in dire straights because the wealthy all go to Asia to avoid the automatic IRS deduction on winnings, even for non-US tourists. An entire cottage industry has been setup revolving around this IRS aggressive tactic. Even states joined in by not allowing US tourists to balance losses with winnings on taxes. Sidewalk cleaning always is refreshing matter where you are or go. Clean away! I bet there are still blood stains from the1950's that need removal. I wish them luck. Bring back the Stardust.....
on March 30,2012 | 02:37PM
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