Texas' Capital Increases Security in Time for SXSW
- By Sydny Shepard
- Mar 10, 2016
South by Southwest (SXSW) has seen its fair share of tragedies. In 2014, an intoxicated driver drove their car into a group of people killing four and injuring almost two dozen others. This year, however, is going to be different.
South by Southwest, Austin, Texas’ annual film and music festival is set to begin on March 12 and run through the next 10 days. The capital city will see hundreds of thousands of people flow into the festival site as well as President Barack Obama, setting up an excellent excuse for determining stronger security procedures.
Sixth Street will see the biggest of changes, police say. There will be a 20 foot wide emergency lane running down the middle of East Sixth Street to help emergency vehicles get in and out. Also, this year, instead of just putting barricades around the outer perimeter of SXSW, there will be two marked patrol cars on those closed off streets to increase security.
150 to 200 police officers will be paid from a special overtime budget to control the crowd. The SXSW stress level is already high for first responders, but now it is doubling with the arrival of the President.
Police are also expecting mass amounts of traffic on Friday, March 12, the opening day of the festival and the date of President Obama’s speech. To keep too many drivers from seeing red, the city’s traffic management system will be looking for bottlenecks and redirecting officers to the worst of them. Even with the increase in staffing, the city says driver’s expectations should be low.
Another change this year is that the no-refusal period will be the longest APD has ever enforced. It will cover the entire 10-day festival.
Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.