Emergency and law enforcement officials reported a quiet and slow New Year’s holiday, probably due to COVID restrictions.

Cherokee County Sheriff Jason Chennault believes the pandemic may have kept partygoers inside for most of the night.

“It didn’t seem like there was much traffic out at all,” said Chennault. “We have a contract with the casino to do periodic parking lot patrols, and we did one. The casino had a lot of customers, but other than that, there just weren’t a lot of people out.”

Officials ordered extra patrols ahead of the holiday, and they were available to provide rides for those who needed them.

The CCSO and Tahlequah Police Department typically offer rides to those who may have become too impaired to get behind the wheel of a car during the holiday.

“We were all out until 2 a.m. and no one called us for a ride,” said Chennault.

Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said his officers didn’t receive a call for the free ride, either. However, officers were dispatched to a residence where several people were assaulted on New Year’s Eve.

“We responded to a disturbance earlier in the evening and made contact with people who said there had been a disagreement, or scuffle, among people who were at the residence, and everything was fine, so we left,” said King. “Later in the night, there was an assault on a group of people who had to seek medical attention.”

King said an official report has not been filed as of Tuesday, Jan. 5, as they are gathering more information.

For the month of December, TPD reported 30 thefts, which included petit larceny, burglary from a vehicle, or items stolen from outside a residence.

“We only had five burglaries where someone broke into a building or a structure,” said King. “Our burglaries have been very low, but our thefts have been high. They’re not breaking into the houses but getting into unlocked vehicles or stealing from retailers. We had a rash of car thefts, but we have worked with the Office of Juvenile Services, and it was a juvenile whom we believe was responsible for at least four or five of those."

Tahlequah Fire Chief Casey Baker said his crews responded to a structure fire and gas leak Dec. 30.

“On New Year’s Day, we assisted with a cardiac arrest and a few medical calls, plus a motor vehicle accident,” said Baker. “I’d say it went pretty smooth, and contributing to that was probably not at many people out because of the pandemic.”

Roberta Studie-Maize, a Tahlequah resident, was killed New Year's Eve in a two-vehicle crash in Adair County. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol report, the cause of the crash is still under investigation.


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