MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Downtown Memphis Commission is excited about new projects and growth downtown last year but says it’s also concerned about the safety of those who work, live, and play downtown.

“Property crimes were an issue across the city, and downtown was also included in that,” said DMC President Paul Young. “We are working every day to solve those problems.”

During the DMC’s Annual State of Downtown at the New Daisy Theater on Thursday, President and CEO Paul Young said Beale Street brought five million people to Memphis last year, and the commission has already taken steps to make the area safer.

Photo by Melissa Moon, WREG
More lights were added to Beale to make the street safer (Photo by Melissa Moon, WREG)

“We’ve added lighting,” said Young. “If you come down here at night, you’ll see it’s much brighter. We petitioned for traffic mitigation and worked with the city to create plans to slow down the roads where dangerous driving has previously caused safety concerns.”

City data shows just over 4,600 crimes were reported in the downtown Zip code of 38103. That number is the highest in years.

Vehicle thefts, car break-ins, and vandalism make up most of the crimes reported downtown in recent months.

Young said they are looking into ways technology can be used to create safer streets and parking lots downtown and want the Blue Suede Brigade patrolling Memphis streets around the clock.

Blue Suede Brigade team member (Photo by Melissa Moon, WREG)
Photo by Melissa Moon, WREG

“We are recruiting an overnight shift to our Blue Suede Brigade team, and we will be asking our neighborhood associations to join us in all our efforts. Because quite simply, we have the best neighbors and because our neighborhood matters to the entire region downtown is the Memphis experience,” Young said.

Young said the DMC is also part of a task force that will complete a comprehensive analysis of downtown public safety and develop a plan to combat the issues. The task force also included the University of Memphis and MPD.