Better Police Presence On Beale Street

Better Police Presence On Beale Street

Better protection on Beale Street, and it’s not with more cops, but better training.
MEMPHIS, TN - Better police protection on Beale Street. It’s not with more cops, but better training. Eyewitness News spoke with the MPD about its newest plan to keep the Downtown partiers safe and under control.

On a big night on Beale Street, the roads are shut down and the place is packed with people. Now, the cops are learning how to specifically deal with the problems that arise when there's that big of a party.

The “Home of the Blues” is under the protection of the men and women in blue.

“Beale Street is one of the biggest assets that the City of Memphis has,” said MPD Col. Robert Shemwell. “And we're going to protect that asset.”

“A good percentage of the revenue that comes in here is from the tourists,” said musician Butch Mudbone. “And, if the tourists feel safe, they're going to be more likely to come here and listen to some blues.”

Mudbone has been playing at spots on this street for two decades, but he says there's not as much business as there used to be.

“The main problem out here is with the panhandlers and the drunks,” said Mudbone.

But he thinks the cops can go overboard.

“You don't have to be physically violent with people,” said Mudbone. “I've seen a lot of that out here.”

Col. Shemwell says specially trained officers will now be on the beat on Beale Street.

“Because of the sports venues here, we have ticket scalpers; we have pickpockets, because of the large number of people here; we have aggressive panhandling; we have people that are posing as parking attendants,” said Col. Shemwell. “You've got to know who these people are.”

Until now, on-duty cops were pulled from other precincts to work special events. Now, officers are undergoing special training for overtime work here.

“We have a lot of people that are drinking, and they're not paying attention,” said Col. Shemwell. “Therefore, our officers are their eyes and ears while these people are out having a good time.”

They'll also be trained about how to better deal with partiers who get out of control.

“You've got to be able to soft-hand approach the individual and walk them off,” said Col. Shemwell.

So the music can keep on playing.

Cops will mostly be in place during the tourist season, but they'll also be on Beale Street for the big events. The next one coming up is the UT-Memphis football game next weekend.

Col. Shemwell says 350 officers have volunteered for the Downtown detail. 200 have already been trained. The rest will be trained in the coming weeks.

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