Schenectady police and casino personnel are gearing up for what is expected to be a hectic few days at the new Rivers Casino and Resort.
Thousands of patrons and curious residents are expected to make their way to the casino when it officially opens its doors at noon Wednesday. City police are planning to deploy additional personnel to handle the expected uptick in traffic, and casino officials are optimistic there won’t be any safety issues.
“When I look at the experience of the three other Rush Street properties, crime has either decreased or maintained at its current state. Nowhere did crime increase,” said Mary Cheeks, general manager of Rivers Casino and Resort.
Policing the area is expected to be a joint effort between the city and on-site security. However, given the influx of visitors in the opening days and weeks, Schenectady Police Sgt. Matt Dearing said additional staffing will be on hand.
He was unsure Sunday of the exact number of extra officers, but additional shifts are being added, he said.
“We’re pretty much going to monitor it and see exactly what happens in the first several days and weeks,” Dearing said.
Emergency personnel including medical first responders could be seen doing a walk-through of the facility during a media tour last week.
Another concern, particularly for those living within walking distance of the casino, is traffic and parking. City police released a PSA last week advising drivers of the best ways to enter the facility.
It’s possible some visitors will make their way to nearby neighborhoods to avoid the crowds. In that case, Dearing said, police are advising guests that typical parking restrictions are still in place, and vehicles parked illegally will be ticketed or towed.
There are 1,800 parking spots on site between the garage and surface lots, Cheeks said. However, the facility holds up to 7,029, a number Cheeks said she’s hoping to hit in the casino’s first days.
On opening day, employees will park off-site to create more space for visitors. The CDTA will also provide bus service to the casino.
“We have a pretty healthy security team that’s been trained in traffic control,” Cheeks said. “[Police Chief Eric] Clifford and [Public Safety Commissioner] Wayne Bennett have worked very closely with us, as well as the mayor, to make sure we have traffic control along with our security personnel. We’ll make sure we don’t bring Erie Boulevard to a stop.”