Maryland-National Capital Park Police are stepping up patrols on a six-mile stretch of the Capital Crescent Trail after a woman was assaulted on the trail Oct. 21.
The woman said she was jogging on the trail between Massachusetts Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in Bethesda when she stopped to allow deer to pass. She was struck on the head from behind, and awoke in the woods a short time later, Montgomery County police said.
The woman said she believed she may have been sexually assaulted, according to police.
Maryland-National Capital Park Police have stepped up patrols for three miles on each side of the incident site, according to Lt. Bill Kellogg, a park police spokesman.
The “directed patrol” spans more than half of the 11-mile trail, which stretches from Georgetown to Silver Spring. Park police officers are conducting at least five additional patrols a day on foot, horses, motorcycles and bicycles, and are reaching out to trail users about taking safety precautions, Kellogg said.
Montgomery County Second District Police are also patrolling on and near the trail in Bethesda’s central business district using officers on bikes and in police cruisers, according to Montgomery County police spokeswoman Officer Britta Thomas.
County police announced they were stepping up patrols near the Wisconsin Avenue tunnel following three assaults and robberies there in recent months, though they said they believe those responsible for the crimes have been arrested.
Capt. David Falcinelli, commander of Montgomery County Police’s Second District, told Patch after the arrests that additional lighting was also being considered near the tunnel.
The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, a volunteer-run trail advocacy group, is also highlighting trail safety.
“We applaud the quick action by police that led to the arrest of youths responsible for a recent attack, and hope they will be as successful with the latest case,” Ron Tripp, chairman of the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, wrote in an e-mail to Patch.
“Until recently, the trail has enjoyed a reputation of having very little crime through the years. So it's unfortunate that the misdeeds of a few may change that reputation in the minds of many trail users. The best we can do at this point is to stress safety, especially after dark.”
Park Police have released the following safety tips:
- Never walk alone and always let someone know where you are going.
- Be very observant of your surroundings and of other people. Avoid areas where visibility is poor and don't wear headsets.
- Wear reflective material and carry a whistle or noisemaker.
- Trust your instincts. Don't walk where you feel uncomfortable.
- Program the Park Police emergency number 301-949-3010 into your cell phone before you leave.