After the tragic events of SXSW 2014, during which four people were killed and numerous others were injured after a man fleeing from police drove through a barricade and into the crowd, SXSW and the city of Austin have taken steps to help ensure the safety of those attending in 2015. Months before the event, studies and surveys were undertaken to help determine the changes that needed to be made in order to help protect attendees, and the city’s Public Safety Commission has been working with police to come up with a plan of action.
This year there will be 60 extra police officers on duty for most of the event and an additional 120 officers on duty to help with crowd control during the final weekend of the music festival. These officers will all come from non-patrol units so that other parts of the city will not suffer from officer shortages during this time. Barricades will also be manned, and the city’s Halo cameras will be monitored. Additionally, the city is working with Austin Energy to have the street lamp lights on Sixth Street, one of the most popular festival areas, replaced with adjustable LED lights that will be much brighter than normal lights.
Despite rumors to the contrary, unofficial events have not been banned. However, the city did reduce the number of permits issued for unofficial events this year (only 114 permits were approved this year, down from 168 last year) and is not taking any more applications. Rules governing existing permits will also be more strictly enforced. This should help to cut down on the number of unauthorized temporary events. Along with more stringent enforcement of venue capacity and alcohol regulations, this should help make SXSW a safer place for everyone this year. Here at Shefman Law we’re happy to see these additional protections put in place, and we wish everyone attending an exciting, fun, and most importantly, safe time at SXSW this year!