LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — The line forms early at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the south end of the Strip.
“I've been here (Las Vegas) once and never saw the sign so it's an iconic thing to do,” says Amanda Retter of Atlanta, Georgia. “We wanted to do it for my son's birthday.”
Visitors from all over the world, posing for photographs.
A picture-perfect image of tourism on the Las Vegas Strip.
Darly Rodriguez is here with her husband and two children. She considers the city a safe place to visit.
“Completely, totally,” says Rodriguez. “We've been out different times from early in the morning to very late at night and we feel completely safe, we’re fine being out there.”
But over at the Regional Justice Center, another side to the story.
“How do you plead to the charge of trespass from November 26, 2022?” asks Judge Melissa Saragosa of a defendant in her courtroom. “I have viewed (your) criminal history there are a number of offenses along Las Vegas Boulevard. 19 arrests, 8 citations, and 10 failures to appear.”
This is the newly formed Resort Corridor Court.
A new way to deal with a very old problem.
“We are focusing primarily on the repeat and prolific offenders,” explains Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. “Those people that keep coming back to the resort corridor time and time again and commit crimes.”
The court began hearing cases just a few weeks ago.
Funneling the majority of criminal complaints along the Strip and downtown Las Vegas to one judge.
From larceny to robbery, prostitution to trespassing.
“There is a problem of crime on the Strip,” says Wolfson. “We read about it, some of the horrific felonies that occurred. But a lot of things you don't see. The misdemeanors that hotel security is having to deal with daily.”
And many defendants in this courtroom will face the same court order.
Banned from the Strip for 6 months to a year.
“I am suspending that sentence conditioned on one thing, you stay out of the ‘order out’ corridor,” says Judge Saragosa, giving a woman accused of soliciting prostitution a map of where she’s not allowed to return.
Should she ignore the order, she’ll pick up another charge.
“If they go back and violate the order, now that's a reason to jail them,” says County Commission Chairman Jim Gibson. “You could say the lifeblood of the economy for the state of Nevada is very dependent on success along Las Vegas Boulevard. And success means a good experience for the traveling public.”
Gibson says complaints about Las Vegas have started showing up in travel website reviews.
A few examples from last year read, Awful Family Experience, Horrible, and Puke+Cry.
Many of the complaints referring to the number of homeless people sleeping on the street.
An issue the county CARE team is also addressing.
“We would offer anyone wrap around services,” says Gibson. “Put them under a roof, offer them meals and clothing and medical attention.”
According to Metro crime statistics from last week, the Convention Center Area Command, which includes the Strip, reported significant jumps in drug offenses, weapons violations, and arrests for aggravated assault.
In many cases, the police and the courts are seeing the same faces again and again.
“There are some people that have been trespassed from the properties 30-40-50 times and keep coming back,” says Wolfson.
Back at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign visitors say they appreciate the effort of keeping criminals away.
“I wish they'd done it at home as well,” says Linda McAleese whose visiting from Europe. “Ireland needs it too.”
Knowing their safety is top priority.