Schoolies greeted by riot squad, mounted cops, sniffer dogs
THE riot squad, police on horseback and others with sniffer dogs are just some of the NSW Police contingent patrolling Byron Bay during schoolies celebrations.
An estimated 10,000 schoolies are expected to descend on Byron Bay, the state's most popular schoolies destination, for the three-week celebration that officially commenced on Friday.
The police operation will target alcohol-related offences, illegal drug use and anti-social behaviour.
Tweed-Byron local area commander Detective Superintendent Stuart Wilkins urged schoolies to act responsibly and look out for each other.
"Schoolies is a great way to celebrate completing the HSC but the occasion should be marked sensibly, responsibly and safely," he said.
"More than 10,000 school leavers visited the area during Schoolies 2013, which doesn't include the hundreds of day trippers and other tourists in the Byron Bay area, so our operation will also focus on minimising the impact of events on the local community.
"If you are over 18, think before you drink and know your limits, take responsibility for yourself and look after your friends."
A police spokesman confirmed that during this year's schoolies celebrations local police will be supported by members of the Public Order and Riot Squad, Operations Support Group, Mounted Unit, Police Transport Command, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and the Dog Unit.
While he didn't provide exact numbers, the spokesman said police numbers would be especially high over the weekend.
A similarly strong police presence was deployed last year in Byron Bay and police said no schoolies were arrested during the 2013 celebrations.
While the police presence is high, Det Supt Wilkins said their primary role was to ensure a safe and secure environment.
"Most importantly, police are here to help so don't be scared to approach an officer if you think something is not right," he said.