Safety, security at Beale Street Music Fest: What to expect

Clear bags, metal detectors, and undercover officers just some of the security measures being implemented this year
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Gates to the 2023 Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival open in less than 24 hours.

The biggest party in town returns to the river, and Beale Street Landing will be the command post for Memphis police and other law enforcement agencies responsible for protecting the citizens in Downtown Memphis this weekend.  

On Beale Street, you’ll have to go through a metal detector check to get onto the famous street starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 5.

You will also be scanned as you enter Tom Lee Park.

Only clear bags are allowed at Music Fest this year.

Colonel Keith Watson with the Memphis Police Department told Action News 5 it’s all hands on deck to make sure the Beale Street Music Festival is successful and safe.

“Crime cannot sustain if we work together,” said Col. Watson. “You will see officers in the park, on the perimeter, at the entrance, on the ground, on horseback, on bikes, in the air and on the Mississippi River.” 

Watson said more than 300 officers with Memphis police, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol and Homeland Security will be stationed at Tom Lee Park and on Beale Street where the Blues Tent is located this year, and throughout Downtown.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, fresh off a morning call with MPD Chief CJ Davis, said months of planning went into the Music Fest security plan.

”We’ll have bomb units down there. We’ll be flying drones along the river edge. We’ll have river patrol as well along the edge of the park,” said Sheriff Bonner, “we’ll have at least 40 officers down in Tom Lee Park, and we’ll have Sky Cops there. This is a collaborative effort between the agencies.”

Tom Lee Park is being transformed into a magical world that will offer great music all weekend....
Tom Lee Park is being transformed into a magical world that will offer great music all weekend. The gates open at 5 p.m. this Friday, May 5, for the start of the 2023 Beale Street Music Festival.(Action News 5)

Undercover officers will walk among festival goers in the newly remodeled $60 million dollar park.

Several areas still under construction, including the playground, are fenced off. Should liquid courage convince any revelers to try and get to the River Play equipment or off-limit areas, deputies will be ready.

“There will certainly be officers there to watch for someone possibly scaling the fence,” said Bonner, “and we’ll deal with them accordingly.”   

MPD also issued a warning: protect your car in a city where car thefts and car break-ins are the top crime right now.

”We encourage each and every parkgoer to park your car in a well-lit area,” said Col. Watson. “Make sure the car does not contain any valuables. You should leave valuables at home.”

The Beale Street Music Festival is expected to have 22,000 fans inside Tom Lee Park each day.

It’s a smaller layout this year because of the park remodel, but there’s a bigger emphasis, said authorities, on crime control.

“This is an opportunity to reassure the citizens, the public, and our visitors,” said Sheriff Bonner, “that it’s safe to come to Memphis in May, that there will be a police presence down there and we hope everyone comes out and has a good time.”

The Downtown Memphis Commission teamed with Premium Parking to create a safe parking experience for the 2023 Beale Street Music Festival.

For locations of the DMC-operated lots and garages, click here.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.