Austin Police Department debuts new policy during Texas Relays to keep streets safer
KVUE -- The Texas Relays are in full swing, and this weekend marks the debut of a new policy by the Austin Police Department. Officers say it will help keep the streets safer for visitors, especially pedestrians.
The relays are the first major event in the city since the SXSW tragedy, which continues to overshadow the city.
Marked police cars will now be parked at intersections of all the roads shut down due to traffic during the relays. The cruiser will not block the entire intersection, it is meant to show that police are present.
The policy is not yet part of APD's standard special event protocol, but police feel it is necessary due to the sheer amount of people the city expects.
The 87th annual meet is scheduled to draw more than 6,500 high school, college and professional athletes from nine countries. In past years those athletes, and their friends and family travel downtown to experience Austin, and that means large crowds of people in the street and crosswalks.
Just weeks ago alleged drunk driver Rashad Owens drove through a removable barricade at the SXSW festival and into the crowd while running from police. Four people died from their injuries. Officers hope to prevent another tragedy.
"Texas Relays is just like any other event that takes place in Austin. We encourage people to come down, enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown Austin. [Austin] is a great city," said APD Lt. Vincent Hernandez.
"The police department works very closely with the transportation department to make sure these street closures are as safe as they can possibly be. [Street closures] are conspicuously marked, and we just ask that people be very cautious with pedestrian traffic."
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