Justin Timberlake expected at SXSW

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

kvue.com

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 4:00 AM

AUSTIN -- When it comes to the South By Southwest Festival, anything is possible - and that includes visits from big celebrities, as well as surprise performances.

Austin police said Monday that they are preparing to add extra security for popular celebrities who will be in town for the festival.

The Austin Police Department confirmed to KVUE that Justin Timberlake will be in Austin and will throw a private party during SXSW. Police also say they have heard a rumor that Timberlake will give a surprise performance, yet there is no word on when or where.

Police say they are working on plans to organize staff and have extra officers in place in case there are any surprises.

It seems like every year the crowds get larger and the guest names get bigger. In addition to Timberlake, this year Austin police are gearing up for other super stars like Lil Wayne, The Flaming Lips, and Stevie Nicks.

"We plan ahead of time to have officers in the area just to assist," said APD Commander William Manno.

As SXSW grows, so does the cost of keeping it safe. In 2011, the City paid Austin police $142,000 in overtime. In 2012, that jumped to $654,000. Officers estimate this year's cost will be even greater.

As for organizing the staff they're slightly behind schedule this year.

"We are a little bit behind the curve on this one because Southby requested a nine day street closure as opposed to a four day, and city council just approved it last week. That added a lot more assignments for us," said Manno.

Commander Manno says the creation of the Special Events Unit and moving into a new building with other city departments has greatly improved organizing and planning.

"We moved out here three or four months ago," said Manno.

The staff works together on issues like traffic management, pedestrian management and tourism policing.

"What do we need to do to make it safer?" asked City of Austin Transportation Director Gordon Derr.

"That is just encouraging the officers to get out and be more helpful to people and interacting with people," said Manno.

In years past, violence and fighting have caused APD to re-examine their safety plan.

"With large events like this Southby and F1 we add additional staffing, so we see less crime in that particular area," said Manno.

Officers still warn that property crimes and car burglaries go up when SXSW comes to town.

"Plan on someone watching you. There's going to be people looking for opportunities to break into cars. We know that. We're beefing up our patrols and looking for people. Everyone could help out by locking doors and don't advertise they have anything in vehicles," said Manno.

Commander Manno also suggests traveling in groups and says to always be aware of your surroundings.

The SXSW Festival will be held March 8 through March 17.

Click here for more information on SXSW.

Click here for more of KVUE's SXSW coverage.

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