Safety changes in place downtown after deadly SXSW crash

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Track stars and their fans moved from Myers Stadium for the Texas Relays down to Sixth Street. As many as 70,000 people to are expected to enjoy the downtown nightlife.

But Austin police have made some changes this year to keep the area safe.

The department stationed more than 100 officers on Sixth Street on Friday, arriving by the bus load on Capital Metro buses.

After the crash the killed four people during South by Southwest earlier this month, APD is trying something different for the Texas Relays. Officers are parking their marked units at blocked off intersections along Sixth Street to make sure crowds know they are present.

“Outside the barricades, having the marked units will have more of a presence than just your standard reflective barricade,” said APD Sgt. Jeff Crawford.

The department has not made a decision on whether they will staff all special events this way moving forward. Some of the officers that are out patrolling will be on overtime to handle the larger than normal crowds.

“Some years we have had 70,000-80,000 people descend on downtown,” said Crawford.

Crowds will also be downtown this weekend at the Austin Urban Music Festival. That’s happening over at Butler Park on Friday and Saturday.

Many people on Sixth Street were surprised to see so many officers out.

“It’s crazy,” said Austin resident Judy Murrow, who was out to dinner with her husband celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. “We decided to go for a walk came down to Sixth Street and we were like, Oh my God, what’s going on down here?’”

Officers will be stationed along the street until 4 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights.

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