MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We will once again see people out enjoying Memphis’ downtown as we move into Spring, but that unfortunately comes after we’ve seen recent violence.
A warm Saturday night on the riverfront was rocked by the sound of gunfire and followed by sirens.
A 15-year-old boy was killed in the violence.
“We saw uncharacteristic weather this weekend. We thought we had adequate personnel in place, obviously there was an onslaught of individuals that came downtown. This incident stemmed from somewhere else, from another fight from what I’m understanding. It was not something that occurred downtown but unfortunately it ended downtown,” said Memphis Police Colonel Stephen Chandler.
To prevent events like this, Colonel Chandler said they plan on increasing staffing in various ways in and around Beale Street during the warmer months and times with large events.
“The biggest challenge of policing downtown is the sudden influx of bodies. So you think on any given weekend you’re bringing in an additional, 10 to 20, 30,000 people, downtown an additional 5,000 vehicles through the course of the weekend that are coming downtown to enjoy what downtown has to offer,” he said.
As far as handling congested areas, Colonel Chandler said they are looking at bringing in a different kind of patrol along with some new technology.
“We used to have a bike patrol. We were very effective with the bike patrol. We are looking to bring the bike patrol back,” he said. “We are probably going to start incorporating drones, to a certain extent, especially on Beale Street because a drone can give us a birds eye view and help us manage Beale Street a lot simpler.”
Potentially freeing up some officers to help with other tasks needed.
“We’re going to kind of take a look at how we do patrol Beale Street. Where we’re sending teams out and giving them specific zones with which to patrol and the same thing with our outside. So it’s like taking a precinct and creating another precinct within the entertainment unit and sectioning that off,” Colonel Chandler said.
Speed bumps are also making a big difference.
Colonel Chandler said since they’ve been installed, they have reduced the number of speeders and reckless drivers by 50 percent.