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New Patrols Mandated To Make Raleigh Parking Garages Safer

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RALEIGH, N.C. — James Sutton is ready for anything.

"If they have a flat tire, helping them change a flat tire," he said. "If they need a jump, we can help them jump their car. People feeling unsafe, we can give them an escort."

Sutton is a downtown Raleigh ambassador. Rain or shine, the ambassadors are on the streets helping people over a 110-city block area.

Soon, they'll have even more ground to cover. The city council voted to turn some ambassadors into Safety Patrol officers, following the kidnapping and homicide of Cynthia Moreland from a downtown parking garage.

"Our feeling is that as long as you have people that are out there, most people don't engage in illegal activity if someone is watching," said Tracey Lovejoy with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

The plan is to give the current ambassadors special training and hire six additional personnel, whose sole job will be to patrol the public parking decks.

"We're here to deter it if we can," said ambassador George McDougald. "We see something going wrong or somebody doing something wrong, we call the police. They take it from there."

The six additional safety patrol officers will cost $250,000. Previous efforts to pump up security measures downtown have been shelved due to lack of funding. However, city leaders pledged to find the necessary dollars to increase security at the parking decks this time around.

The ambassadors said they're up for the challenge

"I would hope that people would feel safer and that the problems that downtown Raleigh has had will stop," said Sutton.


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