COURTHOUSE - The Montgomery County Sheriff's Department will be randomly sending up to three motorcycle-riding deputies to different parts of the Schuylkill River Trail to provide an extra level of security to trail users.
'We just want the people to know that those trails are a jewel to Montgomery County. They are used by thousands and thousands of people every year. Fortunately there are very little problems up there, but I'm all about preventing problems rather than trying to figure them out afterwards,' Montgomery County Sheriff Russell Bono said on Friday.
Bono said when he was the Norristown Chief of Police he did the same thing to protect trail users in the Norristown section of the trail.
'Now that I have a county wide position, our cycles are able to ride the entire trail,' he said.
The random patrols are meant to provide a sense of security for the residents and visitors who frequent the trails on a regular basis. Bono said deputies will not be out on the trail every day, but he was also not willing to say how often they will patrol the trail.
'I'm going to send motorcycles up there at unannounced times. If you know me, I don't like to give away schedules and let people know we'll be here during these hours. In my experience that defeats the purpose,' Bono said. 'It's better to keep anyone wishing to do anybody any harm up there on the trail guessing.'
Bono has begun the process of recruiting police departments whose jurisdiction falls over parts of the Schuylkill River Trail for some help. So far he has spoken to Chief Mark Talbot of Norristown who has agreed to give him a hand with Norristown Police patrolling the Norristown section of the Schuylkill River Trail.
'It's a collaboration that he has for his quality of life program in Norristown,' Bono said.
Bono said that many of the crimes committed on the trail are juvenile in nature which included teenagers throwing rocks at bikers, which is what led him to send patrols to the trail when he was chief of police.
'But for the rest of the trail, it is safe, very few incidents that I am aware of and very few serious incidents that I am aware of; and that's the way we want to keep it,' Bono said.
Bono said the sheriff's department will try to be proactive in maintaining the personal safety of the trail.
'God-forbid there was an incident like what just happened at Pennypack Park,' Bono said. 'That is not something - I think - Montgomery County residents have to worry about but we just want them to feel that extra measure of security.'
The beginning of the trail patrols is timely considering the death of a woman who Philadelphia police determined to be strangled while she was out on a run at Pennypack Pack Monday night.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that 46-year-old Constance McClain-Murray - a mother of two - was found Tuesday morning and police are still working to find a suspect.
'I think that the odds are better if you do something like this, it will increase the chances of prevention,' Bono said.