Local News

Durham police patrolling American Tobacco Trail on four wheels

Posted October 5, 2012

— Police have a new tool to battle crime on the American Tobacco Trail – three all-terrain vehicles to respond more quickly to crimes and potentially dangerous situations.

Thirteen crimes have been reported so far this year on the 7.5-mile stretch of the American Tobacco Trail that cuts through Durham. They include seven assaults, four robberies, one attempted robbery and one case of indecent exposure.

In 2011, five robberies, two assaults and six cases of indecent exposure were reported on the trail in Durham.

American Tobacco Trail Durham police take to wheels to combat crime on trail

Police have increased patrols in the area with undercover and uniformed officers on foot and on bicycles, but they said Friday that the ATVs will help them cover more ground faster.

"It's a phenomenal tool," said Sgt. Hector Borges of the Durham Police Department.

The goal is to have at least one of the ATVs on the trail from dawn until about 10 p.m.

"When it gets dark, it gets dark quickly," Borges said of isolated sections of the trail.

Durham officials also trimmed back plants to improve visibility on the trail and placed markers every quarter-mile so people will have a better idea of where they are if the need to call 911.

Still, police said, getting them to call can be a challenge.

"People at times feel like they have to wait for a crime to occur before they can call 911, and we recommend, if anything seems suspicious, to please call us right away," Borges said.

The changes help trail-goers like Lekisha Gunn feel a little better.

"I run solo, and so kind of having protection or feeling like I'm more protected definitely helps," Gunn said.

Police want Durham residents to know the trail is safe, Borges said, but police can't protect it alone.

"We continue to invite the public to work hand-in-hand with us," he said.

People who use the American Tobacco Trail are encouraged to go in groups and to carry cellphones to call for help, if needed.

The city has organized an "Our Trail, Our Town" effort that kicks off next Wednesday night in the City Council Chambers at City Hall to teach residents what they can do to help stay safe on the trail.


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  • btneast Oct 8, 2012

    1. Carry your cell phone

    Lol, so you can narrate the assualt to the 911 operator as it is going down? By the time you get connected with 911 and describe the problem and your location, the assault will be over.

  • btneast Oct 8, 2012

    Oh wait that wouldn't cost as much as that spiffy golf cart.. What was I thinking....

    Maybe not thinking at all. 8-10 officers would cost WAY more than the ATV. The ATV does allow for officers to repsnd faster to a call for help. You can't put a patrol car out there, so an ATV is quicker than running or biking in most cases.

  • btneast Oct 8, 2012

    Why the officers rode in tandem rather than spreading out was baffling?

    ...For their own personal safety, not baffling at all.

  • fishon Oct 8, 2012

    the bicycles are better in that they could silently come upon someone. Why the officers rode in tandem rather than spreading out was baffling?

    Safer for them? BTW, if concealed carry is prohibited and we don't need it why do the cops carry their guns?

  • torchhappysean Oct 8, 2012

    Just what is this high priced golf cart going to accomplish??Here's a thought: Try putting 8 or 10 officers WALKING the ATT and see if crime doesnt drop!!!Oh wait that wouldn't cost as much as that spiffy golf cart.. What was I thinking....

  • workinghuman33 Oct 8, 2012

    Good job LEO's! Some of these posts crack me up! Do you want police enforcement or not? Complain, complain...then they FINALLY do something to patrol the area and Debbie Downer comments "oh that won't work". Darned if they do and darned if they don't.

  • lowepg Oct 8, 2012

    Lol- this wont do anything.... Predict 10 days till next assault reported.... If they even keep reporting them in the news...

  • CarolinaCakeMob Oct 8, 2012

    Police can't be everywhere at all times people; they've pretty much placed the keys to safety on the ATT (and everywhere, for that matter) in our laps.

    1. Carry your cell phone
    2. Walk/run/bike in pairs/groups
    3. Stay Alert

    The rest is up to us.

  • johnny2times Oct 5, 2012

    So people were complaining about wanting more patrols....the cops step it up and now your all complaining yet again....unreal.

  • johnny2times Oct 5, 2012

    Cops should be peddling not 4 wheeling

    October 5, 2012 6:11 p.m.

    They are...Just because the story doesn't say its happening, doen't mean its not happening...