Additional police officers patrolling R’land trails; woman attacked recently

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Ridgeland police are beefing up security along the city’s trail system, but the increased presence is not a result of the recent groping incident that occurred there.

On May 26, a woman was running on the trail near the Natchez Trace Parkway when she was approached from behind and groped on the rear end.

The suspect, Ronald Bryant, turned himself in on May 28, after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

That same day, the city’s two school resource officers began their summer duties, which includes patrolling the city’s multi-use paths by bicycle.

“Scott Young and Ricky Bracey - they will be on the trail daily. They’re familiar faces in the community, also, because they’re on the trail every summer,” said police Lt. Brian Myers.

During the school year, the officers are assigned to Olde Towne Middle School and Ridgeland High School.

“We didn’t have to beef anything up, because we knew we had (the patrols) coming,” he said. “This (the groping) happened on a Saturday, and they were starting on a Monday. The plan was in place before (the incident) happened.”

Ridgeland has 15 miles of multi-use paths, 10 miles of single track paths and four miles of designated bike lanes, and police say incidents along them are few and far between.

Trails are open sunrise to sunset, with sections located in more secluded wooded areas, and portions running along city streets.

“The majority (of people) are out there to exercise and have the best intentions,” he said.

In addition to the bicycle patrols, police say officers and first responders can respond to any portion along the trail in a matter of minutes.

“During the day, we have officers on motorcycles and they can get on the trail very quickly,” he said.

The Ridgeland Fire Department also has off-road equipment, which can be used to access the trails in the event of medical emergencies.

Even with increased patrols, Meyers said runners should still take precaution. He recommends carrying a cell phone, and said some runners carry pepper spray and personal tasers for added protection.

“I would like to ensure everyone that the trails are as safe as they can be,” Myers said. “(But) everyone should be mindful of their surroundings, as they should be anywhere.”

Bryant, a registered sex offender, was being charged with one misdemeanor count of disturbing the public peace.

Previously, he had been convicted of attempted rape in Hinds County and was out on parole

(photo) Scott Young, Eric Redd

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