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Beale Street adds more security measures to keep visitors safe

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Beale Street Merchants Association says it has ramped up security, as promised, after a drive-by shooting back in November.

And it insists the street is not only one of the safest spots in the city, but also among the safest entertainment districts in the entire country.

This comes amid new concerns as police search for a man they say kidnapped a woman from a Beale Street club and raped her.

It's the latest in a slew of problems for Club 152.

A woman tells investigators she was partying there early Friday morning when a man forced her to leave with him and then raped her.

In late 2015, a man was shot outside the club.

And back in November, two people were shot in a drive-by near Blue's City Cafe, just a couple of doors down.

But since then, officials say they've been working hard to make sure Beale Street is safe.

"More security, we have more officers on the street," said Ken Taylor, the executive director of the Beale Street Merchant's Association. "So we've definitely done everything that we can to make sure that every person who comes to Beale has a safe experience."

And Taylor says Club 152 has cooperated with officials after every incident.

"152 has done everything that we have asked them to and, in many cases, has gone above and beyond," he said.

But despite the recent problems, Beale Street visitors we spoke with say it won't stop them from going down there to have a good time.

"Women have to be more on their toes and not go anywhere by themselves," said Betsy Kilgore, who is visiting from Nashville.

"We haven't really had an unpleasant experiences," added Zoe Kilgore.

Right now, there are about 30 high-tech cameras all along the entertainment district that can actually sense when a gun is fired, and Taylor says the Beale Street Merchants are in the process of adding more.

"I think by the time we're done, we'll have around 50," he said. "And that is the latest in technology – a Memphis Police Department officer can actually monitor that from a desk at the precinct."

And eyes are on those cameras 24/7.

Taylor says he and other board members are discussing the possibility of bringing the Beale Street Bucks program back this summer.

WREG reported in our Friday 10 p.m. newscast that Beale Street Bucks was shelved after a couple of tries, when in fact it ran from early summer into September. Beale Street merchants say it resulted in a 30 percent drop in crime.