Memphis city council votes to bring back controversial Beale Street Bucks program

WATCH: Memphis city council votes to bring back controversial Beale Street Bucks program

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Beale Street Bucks is coming back, at least through the end of May.

The Memphis city council voted Tuesday 7-5 in favor of bringing the program back for certain high-traffic weekends in the Bluff City, according to council member Frank Colvett.

RELATED: Officials evaluating security situation after shooting, stampede on Beale Street

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The vote came just days after a shooting near Beale Street on the final night of the Beale Street Music Festival caused a chaotic scene on the iconic street.

Hundreds of people stampeded Sunday night after shots were fired nearby, causing a hectic scene for security and police on hand.

That incident prompted city leaders to reevaluate how they could make Beale more secure during major weekends, such as events for Memphis in May.

A study from Event Risk Management Solutions showed there were 25 stampedes from 2013 to 2018 on Beale.

Only one happened when the Beale Street Bucks program was in place.

"I have to prepare for Saturday, so we don’t have a lot of time to debate. We are expecting record numbers of people and I want to be able to keep them safe," said Police Director Michael Rallings.

Rallings said he is asking the sheriff's office for more resources during Memphis in May events.

He emphasized he doesn’t want to pull too many officers from the precincts because he needs them to focus on crime throughout the city.

"I'm just very reluctant to continue to pull more officers from the precincts. I have nine precincts and Memphis is 324 square miles. Beale Street, it's a mile," said Rallings.

He said Beale Street Bucks has worked in the past with reducing crime.

"A lot of the merchants reported that business was good, people felt safe and people were able to come down and have a good time," said Rallings.

As of right now, anyone looking to walk on Beale for the following weekends through the end of May will need to pay $5:

  • May 10-11
  • May 16-18
  • May 24-27
  • May 31

It is unclear how long the program will stick around after May.

The money from the cover will go toward lighting, cameras and a fence on Beale Street, according to the Downtown Memphis Commission.

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