State law changes allow Riverbend organizers to go back to gun-free policy

Guns will not be allowed at Riverbend this year. (Image: WTVC)

The public will not be allowed to bring handguns to Riverbend this year.

Chattanooga Police Lt. Austin Garrett says they are working to spread the word so people don't show up with guns.

"You don't want people coming down, getting all the way to the gate and then getting turned away, then they have to go home or somewhere to secure a weapon," Garrett said.

For the last two years, Friends of the Festival says they allowed guns at the festival because they were complying with a state law that mandated guns were allowed at city parks.

Garrett says that law changed July 2017, so now organizers have the right to either allow guns or not. They chose to go back to the gun-free policy, making this the 35 year Riverbend has been gun-free.

"We understand their reasoning for it," Garrett said. "They strive every year to enhance safety and security for the patrons and they feel like this is one of those measures."

In order to not allow handguns, Garrett says the festival has to meet certain security guidelines.

"One is they have to use metal detectors, they have to do bag checks and they have to either have private security or law enforcement doing that."

Other security measures include having uniformed and undercover officers, private security, collaborating with other agencies, live monitoring of security cameras and asking the public to speak up if they see something out of place.

"Friends of the Festival, all their planning and all the planning we do in conjunction with them is in the best interest of the public," Garrett said. "We and Friends of the Festival take security very seriously."

If you have questions about this directive, or your status to carry, please contact the Chattanooga Police Department at 423-643-5000.

Before you head to Riverbend, make sure you familiarize with other policies and rules in place.

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