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City leaders visit Bourbon and bring back ideas for Beale

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis city leaders are back from their trip to New Orleans to find out how authorities there keep Bourbon Street safe without charging patrons.

"We learned a lot. We met Friday from early in the morning to late at night. We stayed out on Bourbon Street with the officers. We walked with them. We observed," said Council Chairman Berlin Boyd.

He was one of three council members who made the trip along with other city employees and a Memphis Police major.

Together, they hoped to find new ways to curb crime on Beale and also find out if Beale Street Bucks is needed. Right now, BSB forces patrons to pay $5 to get on the public street on busy Saturday nights to help fund security.

"The one thing they do quite well in New Orleans is basically not allow the street to feel like a police state," said Boyd.

Boyd said police seem to have control of Bourbon even with the officer shortage they are facing. He said officers work closely with club owners and citizens.

"They make their officers walk, and they utilize the mounted patrol a lot," said Boyd. "They use horses to move the crowd."

He said that may be something police in Memphis look at.

Recently, New Orleans pumped millions into security on Bourbon and the surrounding neighborhoods. They are adding cameras and more.

Boyd said they looked at it all and will share the ideas at the next meeting of the BSB Task Force, created by city council earlier this summer to study the program, and report back by September.

Boyd said the task force may need more time.

"We want to explore that opportunity and those options. I am hoping we can find the right solution," said Boyd.

WREG reached out to New Orleans officials to find out if they ventured to Memphis earlier this year when they created their new security plan and why they chose not to implement Beale Street Bucks, but we never heard back.