Yearly, metropolis officers navigate public security challenges introduced by the South By Southwest competition, from gun and drug seizures to photographs fired. Nevertheless, an Austin Police Division official stated this 12 months’s absolutely in-person competition was the primary with no ‘photographs fired’ calls since 2012.
“Yearly we work with Metropolis of Austin’s emergency responders who’re vigilant about monitoring potential public security threats year-round,” a SXSW spokesperson stated in an e-mail. “We collaborate with native, state and federal authorities to share data and refine emergency response plans and procedures.”
APD seized 61 firearms and made 131 arrests throughout the competition from March 8-18, based on their press launch. In addition they seized the next narcotics: 3.5 kg of cocaine, 26.6 kg of methamphetamine, 0.04 kg of fentanyl/heroin and 98 lbs of marijuana.
The competition, happening in downtown Austin, attracts massive crowds from throughout the nation and has seen numerous shootings and violent crimes prior to now. The absence of gun violence comes whereas APD operates with virtually 300 officer vacancies.
“Yearly it will get higher,” assistant police chief Jeff Greenwalt stated. “We refine issues that work properly and we make things better that don’t.”
SXSW volunteer Joshua Rush stated he didn’t witness any violent exercise and believes APD acted with additional warning because of the occasion’s historical past.
“I really feel like since there’s a complete bunch of foot site visitors … they simply wished to be as cautious as attainable,” journalism freshman Rush stated.
Greenwalt stated the final uptick in overdoses within the metropolis motivated APD to extend security measures and monitoring, with the quantity of methamphetamine and cocaine seized throughout SXSW rising from final 12 months.
Greenwalt stated APD dispatched a particular response unit and arranged crime divisions together with their officers to patrol in and round downtown throughout the competition. He stated officers acted as deterrents and made arrests earlier than a state of affairs may escalate.
”What you see on this occasion is that this all palms on deck sort of mentality the place we’ve got backfill detectives supplementing patrol, and patrol nonetheless on the market doing what they should do and everyone else downtown for South by Southwest,” Greenwalt stated.