MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) — It looks like Memphis Police officers will once again have a permanent home on Beale Street when the department opens a new substation there. The past several days, officers shot and killed a man with a knife near FedExForum and arrested nearly a dozen people for being drunk and disorderly.
The police substation on Beale Street closed about 12 years ago. Now Beale Street business owners want it back. Mayor A C Wharton said that can happen as quickly as next month.
On any given night 10,000 people come to Beale Street. When you mix alcohol with big crowds you get crime.
"We have plenty of man power, that’s not the issue,” said President of the Beale Street Merchant Association, Ty Agee. “We just have so many people coming through here and you're going to have things happen from time to time."
Saturday night four officers were hurt when they tussled with two brothers who they say refused to leave Beale Street during closing time. Sunday afternoon police say Mark Mitchell tried to run two officers down in his car. Tuesday early morning police shot and killed 19-year-old Christian Freeman, after they say he charged at them with a knife. Beale Street merchants believe reopening a police substation will curb the violence.
"We actually have, like I said, a lot less trouble here than we did 20 years ago but with the substation back it'll be a big plus for us,” Agee told abc24.com.
"The mere fact that you have a building there is a passive assurance to people. Again, we don't want folks that are coming to Beale Street to get the impression ‘Oh, this is a dangerous place,’ we don’t want that,” said Mayor Wharton. “A police substation can give the message of safety and assurance of safety."
President of the Memphis Police Association, Michael Williams, loves the idea but doesn't believe a substation will "solve" the problem of crime.
"Crime is up not down. I’ve responded to more officer involved shootings in the last couple of months than we have in a very long time,” said Williams.
Williams wants the city to focus on education and after school programs for children rather than spend more money on buildings.
"This is a root problem. We have to start investing in the people,” he said.
The new substation will be located at 340 Beale Street near Club Crave. Mayor Wharton says to get the building up and running will cost less than $50,000 over a 5-year lease.