NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – To enhance safety and security in the Lower Broadway entertainment district, more than 100 merchants are banding together and paying for a private security force.
The group of officers, about 30 strong, are certified law enforcement officers from city and county departments, as well as state troopers.
Metro police told News 2 they also have a sizable force devoted to downtown enforcement.
According to a police spokesperson, day shift bikes work in the Broadway Entertainment district area from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. as people are coming to work and businesses are opening.
Police call it part of their Blue on Broadway initiative that begins at noon on Thursday, which includes both shifts of bike officers comprised of two sergeants and nine officers.
Police point out that there are also quality of life officers who work with a Partners in Care clinician to assist the homeless.
According to MNPD, Blue on Broadway continues with the check-in of the Entertainment District Unit late Thursday afternoon.
The permanent entertainment district unit is working Thursdays & Sundays from 3:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. That’s one lieutenant, four sergeants, and 28 officers.
Steve Smith, a long time downtown businessman who owns Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Honky Tonk Central, and other Lower Broadway businesses said things downtown are good, but they can be better, and safer.
“There’s no reason for it. The precinct is right here and we have police officers on the street every weekend. The street has been in bad shape for years with the (homeless) and criminals,” he said.
According to the city, it takes Metro police more than 10 minutes on average to respond to a call in the Broadway area. Because of this, Smith and more than 100 other merchants downtown banded together and hired a security force with their own dollars.
Smith said the key is to make it safer for the tens of thousands of guests who visit downtown Nashville each month.
“I was at Kid Rock’s one night, looking off the balcony with one of my attorneys and I’d been watching this for a while, and the (homeless) standing on the street are pack mules for the drug dealers, and when the drug dealers make a sale to our clients coming out of our bars,
they go over and get the drugs from the pack mules and pass it on to the tourists,” Smith said. “It’s a dangerous situation. We realized then we had to do something to clean up downtown. This is the golden goose. This area pays so many taxes, state taxes, as far as revenue goes.”
According to Jack Byrd of Solaren Risk Management, the additional security officers are all certified, off duty police officers and state troopers, who wear their own departmental uniforms
and have arrest powers in Davidson County.
“Metro police do a fantastic job and we are just here to support and augment them in their efforts downtown. We are just another layer. If it affects anything that works, lives, or plays downtown, we like to keep it clean and safe. We are dedicated to this quadrant, absolutely, and we work hand in hand, in conjunction a lot of our staff are Metro police,” Byrd said. “And we attend the Metro police roll calls on the weekend to make sure everyone understands the staff that they have and the staff that we have.