Changes coming to security details on Beale Street

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Big changes are coming to security on Beale Street, as the Memphis Police Department trains hundreds of officers to work a new detail there.

According to police, as the state's number one tourist attraction, Beale Street's perks and problems are unique.

"We have specific crimes that occur in and around the Beale Street and the surrounding area that we needed to give our officers special training," Col. Robert Shemwell said.

That's why the Memphis Police Department is putting together a Beale Street overtime detail.  Hundreds of officers will be specially trained to handle Beale Street's special needs.

"Such as your panhandling, your ticket scalpers," Shemwell said. "We have individuals posing as parking attendants."

According to Shemwell says currently officers are borrowed from various precincts around the city. But they're not always familiar with dealing with large crowds.

"When you start dealing with large crowds and inebriated individuals, there's certain ways you need to approach that," he said.

Officers will be trained in what's called a 'soft hand' approach.

"How to address those situations quickly and get them out of the view of the rest of the public, the tourists, so that Beale Street can continue on and generate money for the citizens of Memphis," Shemwell said.

Over 350 officers have already signed up, and 200 have already been trained to protect and serve The Beale Street Historic District, which employs around 700 people. and pumps nearly $4 million a year into the economy.

"Beale Street is probably one of the biggest assets in the city of Memphis, so we have to protect that asset," Shemwell said.

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