AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Department says it will continue bulking up security downtown despite the cancellation of South by Southwest.
APD says safety is a priority, especially after several violent incidents during SXSW last year.
“We had a very violent SXSW last year, we can’t be caught with our pants down,” said Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday.
In 2019, police responded to several shootings. This year, APD said it is fully aware of all the unofficial SXSW events, which should draw large crowds.
“We are aware that there will be several unofficial SXSW events and that we will still see an influx of visitors in the city. For this reason, the Austin Police Department is keeping the majority of our overtime staffing levels. Security will not be decreased in the area. Minor changes have been made due to previously planned road closures that will no longer be needed. Our top priority is to keep Austin residents and visitors safe.”Austin Police Department
Casaday said violence often erupts from the unofficial music concerts that pop up across the city.
“We have lots of people competing against each other in the music industry and tempers flare and we have bad incidents and I don’t see that being any different this go-around,” Casaday said.
For Mark Dolan, a victim of a violent crime downtown, he’s worried about the influx of visitors and the problems that might arise in the city.
“Anywhere on Sixth Street lately, there have been stabbings and shootings,” Dolan said. “I’m really concerned about what it will do to the reputation of Austin, which frankly, is already tarnished.”
Casaday said you’ll still see street barricades and a heavy police presence. A special reactions team will be on-call for major incidents and there will be an increase in paramedics.
With all these measures in place, Casaday said both locals and visitors will be safe.
“No matter the situation and the danger, the police department will always be there doing their job,” Casaday said.
One change to be aware of: APD said there will be fewer road closures than in past years. Even still, APD suggests giving yourself extra time when heading downtown because they still expect traffic delays.