NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Roughly 60 officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department work extra-duty hours every Friday and Saturday night in Nashville's entertainment district.
The department placed officers on Broadway, the pedestrian bridge, Demonbreun and Division Street during the overnight hours on Friday and Saturday.
Initially, there were 17 officers working the Entertainment District Initiative when it was first implemented in 2019. That number swelled to 60 when visitors and Nashvillians started to return in droves to honky-tonk row after the city lifted COVID-19 restrictions.
The officers volunteer or get asked to work the public safety initiative. In turn, they collect overtime. One Saturday night in October, the department paid out $28,183.86 in overtime, according to a MNPD spokesperson.
Watch Hannah McDonald's full report tonight on NewsChannel 5 at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Most officers participating in the initiative don't typically work in the downtown core. Their day jobs are in other precincts or at headquarters, which is where Detective Markus Miracle works.
"Broadway is literally just for the job I'm doing now. I don't typically come down here," Miracle said.
For this story, NewsChannel 5 followed Miracle during one of his Friday night shifts on Broadway. He regularly volunteers for EDI.
Asked if the entertainment district is a dangerous place, Miracle described the area as metropolitan.
"You're going to have some stuff go on, obviously," Miracle said. "You're going to have your general fights, your general drunks, some homeless stuff. Other than that it's pretty safe."
So why is it necessary to put extra officers downtown every weekend?
Violent crime and property crime in Central Precinct is up in 2021, according to the MNPD crime dashboard. But in 2020, there were far fewer visitors. Crime in the final quarter of 2021 is on pace to tie the reports made in July, August and September. However, there are almost twice as many officers working EDI in November than there were at the start of the summer.
Miracle said the initiative is not just about stopping crime.
The officer's career with the department started 23 years ago in the downtown business district, where he patrolled on a bicycle. This initiative let's him connect with the business community again.
"If they need me, they know there's definitely someone within a quarter block to help them out. I think that's most important. " Miracle said.
On the night NewsChannel 5 profiled the Entertainment District Initiative, there were 109 business check-ins. Additionally, officers helped medics with Nashville Fire Department navigate crowded streets to reach their patients. There can be 15 or more medical calls on a weekend night. Officers made five physical arrests during the shift. The mobile booking team with the Davidson County Sheriff's Office helps with processing on weekend nights.
Extra police are assigned to the entertainment district on Thursdays and Sundays as well. The number is smaller. There are usually about 15 officers on Thursday night and about ten from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
"Nashville is such a big place, such a popular place. I think it's just important to have the extras to help the precinct out tremendously. Just the presence. Any department in any city, the more officers you have that are there for presence, the less crime you'll typically have," Miracle said.