Downtown Memphis prepares for thousands as events season starts

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Keeping you safe in the crowds.

Thousands of people are already in downtown Memphis for the Grizzlies playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night.

This weekend, even more will be in town for Africa in April and a crawfish festival, and preparations for Memphis and May are underway.

All of this comes after two shootings, two weekends in a row in the downtown and Tom Lee Park areas.

It’s not just go time for the Memphis Grizzlies Thursday night from here on out its all hands on deck, including busy Beale Street.

"We also have Africa and April coming up right adjacent to the street this weekend, Hot Wing festival, we have Strong Man May 13. We actually have wine racing April 30 so we just have an amazing slew of events that are coming on," said Ken Taylor with the Beale Street Merchants Association.

We're in event season, and the Beale Street Merchants Association says they're preparing with law enforcement for the crowds.

"We don't discuss specific numbers, but we do have a great relationship with the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office as well as the Downtown Memphis Commission."

While people from all over the Mid-South enjoy these events, it's long hours for officers on the job.

"It's just kinda a thing we expect this time of year, everyone kinda chips in and goes downtown to work these details," said Essica Littlejohn, the vice president of the Memphis Police Association.

Those details require a balance.

"The majority of people downtown this time of year are people from out of town who come in and enjoy these kind of events, and it is very important because we have to make sure those citizens are safe, and at the same time we have to make sure the officers are well-rested."

If you were anywhere near Tom Lee Park and the riverfront this past weekend, you noticed an increased police presence — officers on horses, on bikes and on boats, a helicopter and undercover and reserve officers.

Memphis Police aren’t saying what they’re doing specifically for upcoming large events but said they’ve added more cameras and they’re working with the Riverfront Development Corporation to hopefully add private security.

"We’re reaching out for businesses and apartment complexes to help MPD by adding some additional security officers themselves or cameras," explained Col. Gloria Bullock with the Memphis Police Department.