American Tobacco Trail begins adding video surveillance
Posted June 12
Updated June 13
Durham, N.C. — 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.