Police, joggers step up safety in wake of attacks in Sherwood and North Little Rock

Police, joggers step up safety in wake of attacks

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- After a string of attacks on women in northern Pulaski County, the police are doing more to keep women safe.

Many women are also rethinking their own protection.

“That’s why I had my dog today,” said Heather Theodore, who was jogging on a popular trail in North Little Rock Wednesday afternoon. “And my husband actually came and ran with me, which rarely happens!”

Joggers and walkers are taking extra precautions after another woman was attacked over the weekend. According to the police report, the attack took place on a different part of the same trail Theodore and her husband ran on, near North Hills Boulevard.

Six women have been attacked in the last six weeks. Five of the attacks took place in North Little Rock, and one took place in Sherwood. Detectives believe many of the attacks are related.

Sgt. Keith Wilson, with the Sherwood Police Department, said there is a lot that goes into remaining safe when anyone goes out.

“One, the situational awareness, just knowing that something’s not right around you,” he explained. “Two, what do you do next, and then three, what do you do if you are attacked.”

The North Little Rock Police Department now has officers patrolling the trail, riding in golf carts and on motorcycles. Several people walking along the trail noticed and appreciated the change.

“Most of the time, I’m always running with somebody else,” Theodore explained. “And I’m always just looking around at my surroundings, where everyone is. And I’ll just keep, like, a key in my hand, or some sort of defense-kind of thing to keep people away.”

The Sherwood Police Department is preparing its first-ever self-defense class for women. Sgt. Wilson, who oversees the department’s community policing initiative, asked for feedback on Facebook to find out when the best time for a class might be, and more than 500 people said they were interested.

“Didn’t expect quite that many,” he noted, “so we are looking at expanding, maybe doing some extra classes.”

Theodore, who lives in North Little Rock, thought it would be useful, as well. “Yeah, just (to learn) better how to defend yourself when you’re not expecting anything,” she said. “Because you never know when it’s going to happen.”

Sgt. Wilson said department leaders have wanted to hold a women’s self-defense class for a while, though more people have asked about it since the attacks began last month. While the class is not a direct response to the attacks, he said the timing is important. “Summer is right around the corner,” he mentioned. “School is going to be letting out, have a lot more people moving around during the daytime, and everything, so we’d like to get as many people involved as we can.”

Sgt. Wilson said the department is still considering two different types of classes, and the one of both could be offered as early as the middle of May.

Anyone who wants to learn more is encouraged to call the Sherwood Police Department at (501) 835-1425.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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