Local News

Milemarkers will help Raleigh track greenway crime reports

Posted February 12, 2013

A new mile marker along the greenway trail by Lake Johnson. Photo by James Borden for Raleigh Public Record

— At a time when Durham’s Tobacco Trail is under scrutiny following multiple attacks on patrons, Raleigh is working to implement a new emergency call system for its greenways.

The Parks and Recreation Department is now installing mile markers along the greenway, enabling callers to identify their location by the closest one. Eventually, a mile marker will be placed every quarter mile throughout the system, and the response will be routed to the greenway’s nearest access point, according to Recreation Superintendent Scott Payne.

By connecting the mile markers with access points, emergency operators will be able to respond more quickly and accurately to any call made from the trails.

The system is still undergoing testing, Payne said, and there is no timetable for completion.

“We’re working with the ECC, the Emergency Communications Center, and beginning to get new street addresses for where our access points are,” Payne said.

Any related police report, he said, would then list both the access point, which is the official address, and the mile marker nearest to which the call was placed.

Currently, any report filed for an incident on the greenway system would be tied to the closest street address, making it difficult to track crime statistics for the trails.

A lack of violent crimes committed on the system has made doing so partially unnecessary.

“To the best of my knowledge and recollection, we have not had a pattern of significant occurrences on the greenway,” said Jim Sughrue, Director of Public Affairs for the Raleigh Police Department.

Still, there is no data to pinpoint whether it’s been an issue because the city’s crime mapping system does not enable officials to compile data specific to the greenways.

Crime mapping through geographic information system (GIS) technologies is a popular form of crime analysis that allows police to pinpoint high-crime areas and allocate additional resources as necessary.

Crimes are “tied through GIS to address locations, and the greenways don’t have a specific street address,” Sughrue said.

Once in place, Raleigh’s new emergency response system will create a series of addresses tied to access points along the greenway. This would allow for more accurate tracking of any incident occurring along the system.

A similar tracking setup was implemented in 2012 in Durham, following a series of violent crimes on its American Tobacco trails.

Jason Schiess, the analytical services division manager for the Durham Police Department, said modifications were made to the city’s existing crime mapping system.

“The Tobacco Trail now has a mapping layer that makes it function kind of like a road. Essentially, each milepost of the trail corresponds to an address. Such as, milepost 1 would be, say, 100 American Tobacco Trail.”

The switch was made, Schiess said, after “several events occurred in a short period of time.”

A review of Durham’s 2012 crime statistics turns up 12 reports of violent crimes on its Tobacco Trails. The address of one particular mile marker, 175 American Tobacco Trail, is tied to three robberies and one assault.

The types of statistics available for the Capital Area Greenway System are tied to incidents of a different sort.

“There was a street sign that had been thrown into the Neuse River,” and a report of an abandoned and likely stolen bike, said Bruce Embry, the volunteer coordinator for the Raleigh Police Department.

In August of 2012, Embry helped add the Greenway Volunteer Program to the department’s roster of volunteer organizations.

The Greenway Volunteer Program has 34 active volunteers who have logged more than 650 hours. Embry said their familiarity with the system enables the volunteers to easily assist any of its many patrons. They are also trained, he added, to serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for the police.

“Right now we don’t have any problems on our greenways,” Embry said. “There are no crimes happening that we’re aware of, and we want to try and keep it that way.”

31 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • dbass Feb 13, 1:20 p.m.

    This is a great idea, but not just for crime reporting. We once came across a woman on the greenway who was injured and needed medical attention, but trying to describe her location to the 911 dispatcher was an excercise in frustration. Mile markers would have been very helpful that day.

  • MadMaxx Feb 13, 10:29 a.m.

    RPD, you can find the suspect's body at mile marker 12!!!! Criminals beware, we are not taking this criminal activity anymore and standing up for our RIGHTS and PROTECTIONS.

  • Red Green Feb 13, 9:41 a.m.

    "If I have to carry a gun to take a nature walk, I'm staying home!" beachgal

    And as we lose more and more territory to crime the criminals continue to win! I'd rather see more people including myself carry.

  • lowepg Feb 13, 9:20 a.m.

    What a joke.... milemarkers?

    So now they can more easily find you after you've been assaulted... that's reassuring.

    It perfectly symbolizes that cops cant PREVENT these crimes... only come mop them up afterwards... People need to take responsibility for themselves.

    Dont walk/run alone, be aware of your surroundings (ie turn off the headphones), and be prepared to protect yourself.

    And, frankly, stay out of Durham.... theres plenty of nice trail that doesnt cut through the sewer...

  • joeBob Feb 13, 8:12 a.m.

    We walk the Neuse River Greenway all the time and have never felt threatened. Saw some bike riders for a while that had some sort of badge or something sown on identifying them as "greenway volunteers" or whatever. Haven't seen them in quite some time. Remember, concealed carry is concealed carry.

  • ThePunisher Feb 12, 6:40 p.m.

    if only criminals obeyed no gun zones we wouldn't have a crime problem on the greenways would we?

  • mistervegas Feb 12, 5:32 p.m.

    Why doesn't the Raleigh police setup a sting operation to catch there criminals?

  • beachgal Feb 12, 5:20 p.m.

    Really? It's that unsafe to walk these trails? My husband was so excited when they finished the Neuse Trail. I refuse to go. Unless of course I take a gun, which I don't own. If I have to carry a gun to take a nature walk, I'm staying home!

  • BuglessDuster Feb 12, 5:06 p.m.

    If they have to put up mile markers so you can more easily identify the location you are attacked, I think I will get my exercise somewhere else.

  • letickle0927 Feb 12, 5:04 p.m.

    Actually, the NC constitution explicitly makes it a right to carry guns openly. No government body can restrict your right to carry openly. However, private entities can and municipalities can restrict concealed carry on explicit recreational places included in the statute and they must conspicuously post the restrictions while you are still allowed to store the guns in your car while at the recreational facility. Sources: CCH instructor, Law Student currently enrolled in firearms law and just covered this subject yesterday, NC constitution.

More...