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ACL offers refunds as Austin police rework safety plan for music festival

The Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival starts Friday at Zilker Park in downtown Austin. (Photo: Bettie Cross)

Hours after the Las Vegas shootings, Austin police are reworking their safety plan for the Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival. There are going to be more police officers on foot, riding bikes and all-terrain vehicles and in patrol units as APD works to keep a close eye on the festival and the area around Zilker Park. In addition, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says officers are checking all high-rise hotels, apartments and condos along Lady Bird Lake to be aware of any potential threats. Chief Manley says he wants these extra safety measures to make music fans feel safe.

This Friday 75,000 people will scan their festival wristbands and crowd into Austin's largest music festival. The timing, just days after the Las Vegas shootings, has ACL offering refunds to anyone who doesn't feel safe attending the three-day music event that runs October 6-8 and 13-15. (As of Tuesday morning ACL had only received two inquiries about refunds.) While some fans may be spooked by the shootings and not attend, many fans tell CBS Austin they just want to see a larger police presence.

“They should definitely be on high alert. They should kick it up a notch,” said Dan Fauids as he rode his bicycle past Zilker Park.

Monday afternoon Chief Manley announced a re-worked safety plan for ACL that will include more uniformed and undercover police officers, as well as federal agents and DPS officers.

“There will be a large number of officers in a very concentrated area at this festival. Actually, from that perspective, it's going to be the safest part of the city to be in during both weekends just because of the sheer number of officers that will be present,” said Chief Manley.

Even with the increased police presence at ACL, music fans are being encouraged to take some personal responsibility for their safety.

“Know where you would go in the event of an emergency. If you had to get out quickly know what your avenue of exit is. Know where the nearest escape is and pay attention to that,” said Chief Manley.

Some Austin residents say no one can prevent these tragedies, so it's time to start better preparing for them.

“Could it happen here? It could happen anywhere,” said James Waddington, who was playing on the Zilker Park playscape with his almost three-year-old son.

He doesn't plan to let fear run his life, but he says with a young son he has to make smart, safe choices.

“Considering how many festivals we have in Austin and the amount of people who show up for these things, of course it makes me second guess going to large festivals like ACL, SXSW and whatever,” said Waddington.

Austin police say they are closely monitoring social media and so far they are not aware of any threats against ACL.

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