MEMPHIS, TN -- The deadly shootings at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Memphis, the killing of a Memphis Police officer and a civilian, occurred in an area known as the Beale Street Entertainment District.
Memphis has a special set of police officers patrolling that beat, a team of 33 men and women who make sure the streets are safe for everyone on Beale and throughout downtown.
The cops working this beat have to be ambassadors for the city while watching out for major crime. Officers say they have to be equal parts tour guide, restaurant critic and law enforcer.
"Beale Street's big attraction is blues, music and alcohol," says Lt. William Woodard with the Memphis Police Department.
Along with those three things, another staple you'll quickly notice in Memphis' popular tourist spot is police.
"I like to see them," says tourist Susan Deppe. "I like to see their presence. I know I'm safe."
"We really need them," adds Natalia Hewlett, a host at BB Kings Blues Club on Beale. "You just can't control some people. They're just violent, especially when they get full of alcohol. So it's good to have the police."
The Beale Street Entertainment District has a lot of them, something obvious on Sunday, July 3rd, when the shooting started inside the DoubleTree.
"I think the downtown station and EDU combined had enough officers to contain the situation," Lt. Woodard tells abc24.com. "We had enough officers to keep it from being, as tragic as it was, a larger tragedy."
Officers are quick to point out that deadly crime isn't typical for the area.
"Downtown, we don't have a lot of crime," says Lt. Woodard. "Our numbers are driven by crimes of opportunity."
And they're driven mainly by all the tourist traffic. From Danny Thomas to Riverside Drive and Linden across to Madison, Memphis' Finest are always on alert.
"They have to smile one minute, then bark the next," says Lt. Woodard of his officers.
Cops on Beale and surrounding streets have to be just as social as they do serious.
"They know the great places to eat and what time the fireworks start," laughs Deppe, "simple things like that."
"Everybody wants directions to the Rendevous and wants to know how to get to Neely's," confirms Woodard.
But when trouble brews, they have to be ready to respond. That's what Officer Tim Warren was doing, responding to a call in his assigned district, when he lost his life protecting the citizens of this city and her guests.
"We start out just as subtle as we can," says Lt. Woodard. "We say sir, what seems to be the problem? Or we say ma'am. You know, we try to de-escalate the situation. But as you're talking to that person with a smile, you've got to be watching behind them and behind your back."
Natalia Hewlett sees them in action several nights a week. Beale Street and Downtown Memphis are better places, in Hewlett's opinion, thanks to those officers.
"It lets tourists know this is one of safest places to be in Memphis," Hewlett tells abc24.com, "because we have law enforcement down here."
The MPD says crime has gone down 20 percent in the Entertainment District this year, versus the same time frame last year.