SEARCY, Ark. — When Memphis mother Eliza Fletcher was kidnapped and killed on a run this month, the story touched families across the country. While crime statistics show these types of attacks are exceedingly rare, the fear they inspire is real, and police in Searcy are trying to make sure no one in fear has to run alone.
Officers started patrolling the six miles of trails around Searcy last week to learn the best times and places to give people a sense of security. Tuesday, September 13, was the first day when authorities announced they would be on a trail, and our station rode along.
By bike, foot, and now by golf kart, the Searcy trails were busy Tuesday morning. Joggers like Ashley Crossman take the route multiple times a week.
“It’s important to my health, both physical and mental,” Crossman expressed.
When it comes to regularly getting out and hitting the trail, Searcy Police are making it a mid-year resolution. For the week of September 12th-16th, officers will be out on the bike trails on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.
Utilizing a police golf cart, police are concentrating on the bike trails from Berryhill Park to the area behind the Searcy Football stadium at Jayson Street. The total distance for those trails is 2.2 miles one way.
Searcy Police Chief Steve Hernandez said, “It’s something that we kind of had already thought about, and then when that happened in Memphis, it really pushed us to do it quicker.”
Hernandez called the kidnapping and murder of Memphis runner Eliza Fletcher senseless. To protect his citizens, it made sense to announce a time period anyone can run backed by the blue.
“But it’s not the only time we that we are out here,” Hernandez emphasized.
Police selected the 8:00 to 9:00 window for those who may go for a walk after dropping off their kids at school, but they won’t say every time police will have a presence on the trails so that people can go out and feel safe.
Unable to be everywhere at once, police recommend people be aware of their surroundings while exercising, carry some form of self-protection, and if possible travel in a group.
Many people like Judy and Gean Crain never walk alone.
“We don’t like them walking without partners. We always comment on it,” Judy stated.
Her husband Gean added, “There are a lot of desperate people out there right now. There really is. People don’t think there are but there are.”
Ashley Crossman said she cannot manage to find a group but says she feels safe.
“I’ve been on this trail more times than I can count. It doesn’t mean nothing ever happens,” she stated.
Of the half dozen people we spoke to, everyone appreciates the initiative and hopes the added security can continue.
“To give people that option is something that I didn’t even think of,” Crossman said. “It’s just upsetting that it has to be done at all.”
Searcy Police say as manpower allows, other times may be added.