Metro Police and the resort industry know that the Las Vegas Strip is an inviting target for terrorists using vehicles as weapons. But there’s a plan in the works to address that issue.
Just a few months ago, ISIS leaders put out the word, urging their followers to attack, whenever and wherever, using whatever tools are available including cars and trucks. That raises nightmare possibilities for a target-rich tourist corridor like Las Vegas Boulevard.
The woman who drove from the Strip onto the crowded sidewalk in December 2015 wasn’t a terrorist, but she ended up injuring more than three dozen people who’d been sauntering along the boulevard. The tourism industry has long known that a sustained terrorist assault on the Strip could demolish Nevada’s economy.
The call by ISIS for its followers to strike, without waiting for sophisticated weapons or plans, is already being heeded. In Sweden, Friday morning. In Nice, France last August, where a truck driven by a Tunisian killed 86 people and injured hundreds more. In Berlin just before Christmas, where 12 people doing their holiday shopping were killed when a truck slammed into a crowd.
“It could be a lightweight vehicle or heavy truck as they did in Spain,” Sheriff Lombardo said.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo admits he worries about the chilling scenario of a lone wolf unleashing hell on the Las Vegas Strip. Such attacks are tough to intercept ahead of time. Terrorists don’t need to build a dirty bomb or carry machine guns to inflict serious damage.
“They talk about knives, and they talk about anything at your disposal, in particular a vehicle. You have access to vehicles all day,” Sheriff Lombardo said.
Las Vegas sidewalks could be considered a target-rich environment, especially on crowded weekends. Lombardo has pitched a solution — to make specific stretches of the Strip unreachable by car or truck — by installing bollards — sturdy protective vertical posts that could stop a truck in its tracks — similar systems are already in place in Washington.
“My suggestion is that we put a bollard system along the vulnerable areas of Las Vegas Boulevard. The county was receptive. The Nevada Resort Association was receptive. We’re in the process of moving forward with that idea to harden targets, all those pedestrian access areas,” he said.
The proposal has been discussed for about a year but because of recent attacks, is now a front burner issue.
“I anticipate that by the end of the year, we will have something in place.”
The sheriff says other ideas are also in the planning stages, including a proposal to heighten the visibility of police on the Strip by creating a strong of police kiosks which would act as islands of law enforcement in the flowing ocean of visitors.