AUSTIN (KXAN) — The large crowds at Austin City Limits Music Fest poses a unique challenge for the Austin Police Department.
Officers say on the festival’s first weekend, they arrested people for drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine and dab, a marijuana-based drug. While they say their focus is not on what the crowds are doing, they say they will act, if they see something illegal.
“We do know that there’s marijuana being used, you can smell it, anybody who goes there can smell it but our primary focus is the safety of the folks that are there,” Lt. Robert Richman, with Austin’s Organized Crime Unit says.
While there are plenty of officers in uniform, there are also undercover officers serving as an extra pair of eyes.
“We have a lot of overdoses that occur during the concerts, so we want to reduce those amounts of drug users when it comes to them overdosing and things of that sort,” Lt. Richman says.
It’s a balancing act, Cmdr. Tim Pruett with Austin’s Special Events unit says. They have officers both inside the festival and outside to make sure traffic runs smoothly and concert goers are safe when they leave Zilker Park. They say their main concern is everyone’s safety.
“We’re not really out there looking to see what we can get on people, but we’re definitely there in case.” Cmdr. Pruett says.
The undercover officers also sometimes spot low-level offenders who end up leading them to larger arrests.
“With everything we do, especially here in organized crime, were looking for really getting to the systemic issue and the root,” Lt. Richman says. “So often times it does start with the intelligence that we gather at different events.”
Police tell us, in addition to having officers on the ground, they also have intelligence units looking for any potential threats made to the festival and festival goers.