MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis City Council first instituted “Beale Street Bucks” back in 2016 to combat a rise in violent incidents on the popular street by charging between $5 and $10 to enter the street some nights.
In 2018, they got rid of the charge after some complaints from the public, but WREG has obtained new information from police showing that might’ve been a bad idea.
Weekend crime numbers on Beale show in 2017, there were 58 incidents — mostly different types of theft.
In 2018, they got rid of the fee and the number of incidents went up to 72 in all, including more types of crimes like carjacking and domestic violence.
As of May 21, police say they’d already responded to 29 incidents in 2019, putting Beale Street on pace to have another year where weekend crime increases.
In response MPD issued this statement:
“We are always concerned when there is an increase in crime, regardless of where the crime occurs. There is no way for us to project how many offenses will be reported by the end of the year; however, we will continue to work with City Council, Downtown Memphis Commission, the Beale Street Merchant Association and the citizens of Memphis to ensure the safety of all patrons.”
City Council and the Downtown Memphis Commission reinstated the fee once again, for the month of May. They say $5 per person will fund upgrades for the future, including better fencing, lighting, video cameras and permanent barriers.
Tourist Byron Norris of New Orleans said he has felt safe on Beale during his visit.
“I’m from New Orleans and we have the French Quarter and no one charges a fee there,” Norris said.