Police provide safety tips for runners

Kara and Nathan Dyer go jogging together, which helps keep them safe. (Gianluca Cuestas)

Many people exercise outside, especially during summer and fall. Although safety is an issue, University and Provo Police state that you should take precautions and continue to do what you love.

Sgt. Brian Taylor of the Provo Police said while it is important to be safe and cautious during all hours while jogging, it is also important to keep in mind who is responsible for the crimes committed.

“The responsibility for preventing these crimes belongs to people who commit them. (Citizens) should not feel that the burden is theirs to prevent sexual assault. Responsibility for sexual battery and sexual assault belongs to people who commit it,” Taylor said. “That being said, there are things that individuals can do to stay safe.”

Taylor emphasized being aware of surroundings, the importance of reporting suspicious activity and being a good witness.

“If you see an assault occur, of course call us immediately; but the thing you can do most immediately after that is to say to yourself, ‘What’s that guy wearing? How tall is he? Is he medium built, thin built?'” Taylor said.

Taylor also said to look for facial hair, glasses, scars, patterns and name brands on clothing. Providing an accurate, detailed description can greatly help police identify suspects.

“When you can turn around and give a timely report to a dispatcher with a detailed physical description, the odds the police are going to respond quickly and apprehend that person go way up,” Taylor said.

Taylor said to take advantage of seeing a situation by gathering in as many details as possible. Waiting and hesitating to observe holds back what could have been a useful situation.

University Police Sgt. Elle Martin, who is responsible for crime prevention efforts at BYU, also cautioned joggers to be aware of their surroundings by not wearing earbuds.

“How many of us wear headphones or earbuds while running?” Martin said. “I would recommend you not run with earbuds so you can be more aware of your surroundings and be able to hear what is going on around you at all times.”

Police recommend carrying mace and taking out headphones while running. (Camilla Stimpson)

Martin, who gives safety lectures to housing units and incoming freshmen, suggested carrying pepper spray, a whistle, a cell phone or a flashlight.

Both Martin and Taylor said to have a plan beforehand of what to do if a threatening situation arises.

“If I’m out running and I’m alone and I can see the danger, I’m going to run away. I’m going to escape, and if I can’t escape, I’m going to fight,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to be the biggest and baddest and strongest person on the block to fight to get away.”

Martin and Taylor said making noise can help when a person is in danger.

“Don’t be afraid to yell and scream for help,” Martin said. “If you need help, yell and make some noise to attract some attention to others in the area.”

BYU student Kara Dyer runs frequently for exercise. The main precautions she takes are running with her husband, running during the day or letting someone know where she’s going to be.

“If I can’t go running with someone, I run during the day. I never run at night or early in the morning,” Dyer said. “Someone always knows that I’m gong running.”

For general safety while running, Martin said to run on the opposite side of the road so cars are heading toward you and drivers can see you.

“If there are no sidewalks to run on, it is recommended you run against traffic to be able to establish eye-contact with approaching motorists, and be able to make quick judgments to protect themselves,” Martin said.

Martin said running with bright clothing on and carrying a flashlight can also help runners stay safe. Both Martin and Taylor said victims should not to stop running or doing what they enjoy.

“Provo is a great place. It’s a safe place. Go and live your life and don’t worry too much,” Taylor said. “Just because (we give these precautions) doesn’t mean we have to live our life worrying about being attacked in Provo. It’s a great, safe city.”

Taylor said if anyone is not sure if they are seeing a suspicious but not urgent event, they should call the Provo Police Department at 801-852-6210.

Martin also recommended females take the self defense class at BYU called RAD (rape aggression defense) specifically for women.

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