• RIDE-ALONG: How police keep Charlotte's parks, greenways safe

    By: Gina Esposito

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 rode with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers Monday as they patrolled McAlpine Creek Park and Greenway in southeast Charlotte.

    They took our crew down a 3-mile stretch past Independence Boulevard. It's the same area where police said a woman was robbed at gunpoint a few weeks ago.

    [RELATED: Family with toddler robbed at gunpoint at McAlpine Greenway Park]

    The officers are the eyes and ears of the park. They patrol it daily.

    "We’ve seen the robberies, of course, the assaults," Officer Steven Branan said.

    Branan said they just happened to be at a community meeting in March when a woman who was jogging was robbed at gunpoint. At the time, she was with her sister, nephew and 2-year-old child.

    "We’re thinking, as soon as we heard it, we were just there," Branan said.

    The officers said the park is so large, people can access it from multiple points, including businesses, homes and a school.

    Branan said with the weather changing, it will be even harder to see people on some of the deepest trails.

    [RELATED: CMPD looking to beef up security at light rail, Greenways]

    "You can see through there now, but we start getting all the leaves growing, it’s almost like real shaded and dark in some areas, so real easy for someone to hide,” he said.

    One woman who was walking in the park Monday told Channel 9 she carries pepper spray with her after what happened this month. Police are still looking for the suspect.

    When Channel 9 crime-mapped the area within a half-mile radius of the main parking lot, we found officers had received 74 crime reports in the past 90 days. The most serious cases were three reports for assaults involving a gun and three armed robbery reports.

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