KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – More and more of us are spending time outside and with that, comes an added layer of security on our greenways.
Safety is top of mind since we noticed a post on social media: A young woman warning others to be cautious after she says a man exposed himself. KPD telling us she called officers, alerting them to the situation, and while they responded, they couldn’t locate the suspect.
Knoxville police advising we all take precautions as their unique patrol unit on two-wheels makes sure things are safe.
There was a lot of ground to cover at Ijams Nature Center on Wednesday for Ashley Wolff and Nathan Shattuck.
“Just decided to have a good outdoors day,” added Wolff.
There are things each of them say they do to maintain a sense of safety.
“I don’t listen to music and if I do, it’s through my phone instead of on ear phones,” said Wolff.
Shattuck says he carries his belongings with him in a backpack.
“You don’t feel uncomfortable walking past people and usually they’re [trails] open enough you can see people coming and going so that you don’t feel unnerved around people,” he said.
KPD officers take to two wheels, patrolling more than 100 miles of city greenways.
“We randomly patrol areas as well as look for any patterns that have come in through complaints or crimes,” said Lieutenant Sammy Shaffer.
KPD’s bike patrol unit started about seven years ago as a way to better respond to emergencies.
“Fortunately our greenway systems in Knoxville are safe. I would honestly put my family on any one of them,” added Lieutenant Shaffer.
Lieutenant Shaffer says incidents on trails run a wide range, though they’re random and sporadic.
“Be aware of your surroundings. Always know what’s going on around you. It’s real easy to get tuned in to the music that you’re listening to while you’re running or your phone while you’re walking. We just encourage people to keep a heads up,” Shaffer said.
Officers say it’s okay to hike alone, but always let people know where you’re going and how for how long.
Lieutenant Shaffer says if you see something concerning, “First of all avoid it. I will always tell people to build distance between you and what is a perceived problem.”
KPD adds that if you are worried about something or someone, make a call right away and file a report. Don’t wait.
“We don’t know to give extra attention if we don’t know there’s been a reported problem. The public is our best set of eyes. We can’t be everywhere at once and we can’t pretend to know everything that’s going on,” added Shaffer.
For many hikers, they say seeing the bike patrol officers gives added peace of mind.
“It’s super quiet and peaceful. I always feel really safe there,” said Wolff.
KPD says always bring valuables with you, park in a well lit area and lock your car. Officers add, if you do run into a situation on the greenways, know where you are.
Officers say have an idea of your nearest cross street or where you’re close to because it helps them locate you faster.