Local News

New Downtown Raleigh Safety Officers Hit Streets

Posted December 19, 2006 6:46 a.m. EST
Updated December 19, 2006 2:15 p.m. EST

— Downtown ambassadors in Raleigh are known for their hospitality, but on Tuesday, they started helping clean up crime as well.

As many as 13 new safety ambassadors will be on the streets 18 hours a day, six days a week, to keep the downtown district safe, especially around parking areas.

The push to get more security downtown came after the murder of Cynthia Moreland. The Wendell woman was kidnapped from a city parking deck in August, and her body was found 10 days later in rural Harnett County.

"It made us very, very nervous. We did not feel secure. We complained a lot to the city," downtown worker Sue Helmke said of Moreland's slaying.

The Raleigh City Council agreed to spend more than $220,000 for the new safety patrol.

"They've learned everything from how to write good reports to being a really good witness to recognizing the signs of gangs," Police Chief Jane Perlov said Tuesday, noting each member of the patrol has gone through 80 hours of training.

The members aren't armed, but each carries a radio linked to police officers.

The new downtown safety team has a number of primary duties, including communicating with police about ongoing issues downtown, looking out for crime and criminal activity and monitoring parking areas and streets. They will also assist in emergency situations and give visitors information and directions during special events.

"It's just a point of being more visible. If they see you out there, they aren't going to try anything hopefully," downtown safety officer George McDougald.