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Ask the Chief: Keep safety in mind when walking alone

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman

"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: I like to take a walk by myself after supper to clear my thoughts from a busy workday and to burn a few calories. Could you provide a few tips on personal safety and how to respond to an attacker?

A: Great question, many of our citizens enjoy walking in their neighborhoods. Remember, Minnesota Statute (169.21) requires pedestrians to use a sidewalk, when one is present and usable. If no sidewalk is available, pedestrians may walk on the far left side of the street/road, facing/yielding to oncoming traffic.

You stated that you enjoy walking by yourself, if walking with a friend is not an option, here are a few precautions you can take to ensure your safety while walking at night by yourself:

1. Avoid being distracted by your cellphone or your music devices. Earbuds reduce your awareness of your surroundings, and you might not hear somebody approach you from behind and makes you more vulnerable to an attack.

Being aware of your surroundings is one of the best things you can do to ensure your safety!

2. Have a planned route in advance (depart time and return time) and share this route with a family member or friend. Walk at a steady, brisk pace, and walk facing traffic to keep yourself visible.

3. Keep your hands free so that you can respond quickly to a fall or to an attacker. By wearing your purse crossways over the body, a headlamp on your forehead, placing your pepper spray in one pocket, your charged cellphone in the other, and clipping a whistle to your shirt or jacket will keep your hands free and available to respond appropriately to a fall or an attack.

4. Always wear reflective clothing. Reflective clothing enables others to see you as you walk at night.

5. When walking at night, always use a route frequented by others to decrease your chances of being alone and becoming a victim of a crime.

6. There are apps that you can download, like the Companion app, that allow your friends or family members to monitor you as you walk alone at night. The app shares your departure time, your route and your current location on the route, and will notify your friends once you have safely arrived at home.

To answer your question regarding how you should respond to an attack, I would like to encourage you to consider enrolling in a self-defense class. These classes will teach basic self-defense skills starting with how to avoid dangerous scenarios and also techniques for multiple types of attacks.

References

1. Minnesota Statute 169.21, Pedestrians. Located online at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/2017/cite/169.21?keyword_type=all&ke...

2. Minnesota Department of Public Safety: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/pedestrians-bicycles/Pages/default.aspx

3. Minnesota Department of Transportation:

https://www.dot.state.mn.us/peds/education/index.html

4. Minnesota Walking Trails: https://www.traillink.com/stateactivity/mn-walking-trails/

5. Apps make sure you never walk home alone: https://getbsafe.com/

6. WCCO Video: https://youtu.be/eDXA-R0Svhk

7. U of M Video: https://youtu.be/WCSli7QBUy4

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