Local News

American Tobacco Trail begins adding video surveillance

Posted June 12, 2014
Updated June 13, 2014

— The City of Durham has finalized an agreement to place four video cameras along the American Tobacco Trail, but they won't be anywhere near where a recent trio of attacks have been reported. 

The camera plan was in the works long before the most recent attacks, and safety on the trail has improved over the past 18 months. During 2012, 14 attacks were reported along the trail.

The new cameras, paid for and installed by Blackwell Management, will be located along a mile-long stretch of the trail immediately south of the Durham Freeway, between Morehead Avenue and Enterprise Street.

Three attacks have been reported this month about a mile to a mile and a quarter farther south.

Map: Camera plans, attack reports

Long-term plan calls for more cameras

Over time, the city hopes to add more cameras, but the logistics mean trail users should not hold their breath.

City spokeswoman Beverly Thompson said, "We definitely want to use the right tools to help keep the trail safe for users."

The trail route is not electrified, so the city would have to either install lines underground or add utility poles to hold the cameras in addition to buying the cameras themselves. A construction project of that scale would also be a disruption for regular users of the trail, Thompson said.

June 2014 attacks clustered south of downtown Durham

The first assault was reported on June 5 after a man told police he was riding his bike between Otis Street and Fayetteville Street at about 12:30 p.m. when a teenager punched him, knocking him off his bike. The teen did not say anything to the victim and did not attempt to rob him, police said.

The assailant was walking with three other teens who did who did not participate in the assault, police said.

The second happened at about 1 p.m. Friday near Pilot Street. A man and woman were walking when they were approached by four teens. One of the teens asked to use the man’s cellphone. After the man said no, he was punched in the face several times by the group, which took the man’s cell phone and iPod. The man was treated and released from a hospital.

The third incident was reported shortly after 1 p.m. Monday after a woman saw five teenagers attempt to assault a bicyclist, who was able to get away, near Pilot and Fayetteville streets.

Assaults and other crimes are not new on the trail, but Durham police assure residents that it is safe. They offered the following tips for trail-goers:

  • Call 911 to report any suspicious activity.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Walk in well-lit areas that are not isolated. 
  • If you are being followed, get away fast, change directions, and head toward a safe location.
  • Carry a personal alarm with you to deter potential attackers.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • readme Jun 13, 2014

    Posting snipers in the woods is the only thing that will make this trail safe for non-criminals.

  • landonsgrampa Jun 13, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You feel free to go right on and do it your way. Tell me what you look like and I will be sure not to have my gun come to your aid, when your pepper spray doesn't work.

  • ims1924 Jun 12, 2014

    The trail will be closed and nothing but a memory within five years. It's located in a section of Durham that is known to be unsafe and violent. Poor planning.

  • raleighboy524 Jun 12, 2014

    Key questions: Will anyone actually be monitoring the cameras? If so, who? I assume the cops. Will cops be able to respond faster? Doubtful. Will videos automatically lead to moe arrests, convictions? Not necessarily.

  • Jordy Jun 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I agree...let's remember, there has to be a certain measure of common sense and being in that area is not smart.

  • Thomas Williams Jun 12, 2014
    user avatar

    Sinking even more money into what has become a very expensive project. If they would have asked any of the locals, they would have told the ones proposing this debacle that it was being built in a bad area, and there would likely be a lot of criminal activity going on, especially the area around NCCU.

  • Super Hans Jun 12, 2014

    Well, there ya go. Sound advice.

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jun 12, 2014

    You could't pay me to walk around Fayetteville street in that area. That food lion building is shared with the police department and TWO incidents occurs right in front of it... Let that soak in.

  • marciamal1 Jun 12, 2014

    They need to put undercover cops on that trail at times during the day.

  • Monkey_Joe Jun 12, 2014

    Please leave your weapon at home if you are not going to use it properly. This is not TV where you can go "freeze" "Put your hands in the air". These are goofy teenage kids. If you're not trained in combat, bring pepper spray or a stun gun or something.