Downtown Nashville businesses beef up security ahead of Preds watch parties

(Fox 17 News)

As the Nashville Predators advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Music City hosts Nashville Predators watch parties.

Downtown businesses are preparing for the playoffs watch parties, but some businesses say it’s not all fun and games.

“We walk everybody to their car now even if it’s during day time just because the elements out there just aren’t safe,” said Michael Schoff, manager of Big Time Boots

Schoff says big crowds are great for business but sometimes bad for the safety of downtown companies, employees and tourists. With the Nashville Predators in the playoffs - Schoff says the danger that could come with the crowds has him on edge.

“It’s bad when you walk out the door, and you can’t even walk a block without being assaulted or aggressively panhandled three times within a block, which happens – anybody around here can tell you – happens every day,” Schoff said.

He says the growing crowds downtown have brought with them more violence, more panhandlers and more cost for their company that owns multiple boot stores along Broadway. They’ve beefed up security at each location and added multiple cameras.

While they secure their businesses, the Nashville Predators and the Convention and Visitors Corps say they too are prepared to keep attendees safe. A representative from both organizations tell said they are working closely with Metro Police and have plans in place to protect those attending the watch parties.

In fact, the Nashville Predators posted the house rules online. Those attending the parties at Walk of Fame Park are asked to follow the rules.

But beefed-up security isn’t exactly fool proof according to Buford Tune, a former MNPD officer who now trains and license private security officers.

“There is no way to completely secure it," Tune said. "No way possible. You can just make efforts with what you’ve got."

Many downtown businesses have hired their own private security companies. Tune has helped train and license nearly 70 percent of them. He says although the city is vibrant with much to offer downtown, some dangers are inevitable.

“When you start mixing men, and women and drugs and alcohol and attitudes and testosterone and estrogen together, you’ve got a problem,” Tune said.

Some business owners, including the owner of Big Time Boots, say they have reached out to Metro Police asking for extra security.

Metro says the department has several officers and security mechanisms downtown, including plain clothes officers. Despite businesses concerned with safety, Metro is reporting an 81 percent decline in violence crimes downtown.

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