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Downtown Raleigh Group Wants To Help Patrol Parking Decks

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A downtown booster group is expected to present a plan Tuesday that would transform local greeters into an unarmed security force.

Raleigh officials have pushed for tighter security at downtown parking decks since Cynthia Moreland was abducted from a Wilmington Street garage on Aug. 22. The 48-year-old Wendell woman was later found slain in Harnett County.

Officials initially suggested installing more video cameras in parking garages and reassigning police officers from other beats to patrol the decks. However, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance is scheduled to make a presentation to the City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday that would include making the group's Downtown Ambassadors into a new safety patrol.

The hospitality team, which now helps keep downtown streets clean and provides directions to visitors, could also help ensure the downtown area remains safe by having them patrol parking garages and lots.

"It sounds like a pretty good idea," City Councilman Philip Isley said. "I think anything where people can see a presence there is better than nothing at all."

Many large cities in the U.S. and Canada, such as Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Dallas, have public/private safety programs in their downtowns.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which declined to comment Monday on the proposal, would have to double the number of ambassadors on the street and provide them with law enforcement training. The organization also would like the city to shift money already allocated for security at parking decks and to the program.

Isley said his committee would consider the idea as a way to make security more consistent at the city's 10 decks downtown. The committee also is likely to look at other ideas, however, including security cameras, he said.

Moreland was one of about 2,000 Progress Energy workers downtown. The company supports any idea that would enhance safety in areas where workers park, spokesman Mike Hughes said.

"Any initiative that increases and enhances security in our parking decks and lots is certainly welcome," Hughes said.


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