Greenville putting more police downtown after assaults

The Greenville NewsSeptember 17, 2013 

Officials survey the scene where a body was found Aug. 12 near the intersection of S.C. 253 and the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville.

PATRICK COLLARD — The Greenville News

Greenville City Council is putting more police officers on the streets and increasing security measures downtown.

Council members on Monday unanimously voted to spend $826,253 for eight new police officers to patrol the central business district, along with more security personnel in Falls Park, along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and in other public spaces downtown.

Under the increase, a total of 26 officers would be assigned to the central business district, according to Police Chief Terri Wilfong.

Another 10 SLED-trained security guards would patrol the parks and public spaces downtown Thursday through Saturday nights, Wilfong has said. They would be stationed in busy areas, but would be unarmed and call police if they see signs of trouble.

The calls for an increase in security come on the heels of several reports of violence or shots fired on the trail this summer.

On Aug. 1, a man was attacked and robbed of his $800 bike on the trail between Cleveland Park and Falls Park. He told police a group of teens kicked him in the ribs and injured him in the late-night incident.

On Aug. 12, crews with the Environmental Protection Agency taking soil samples near West Blue Ridge Drive outside Greenville city limits found the body of a 60-year-old homeless man about 100 yards off the trail. The man had been shot in the chest, an autopsy found.

On Aug. 20, a pair of cyclists reported someone fired shots near where they were riding on the trail. One of the cyclists was injured when they tried to stop quickly, but neither was shot.

Then, on Aug. 26, a resident who lives near the trail in the West Blue Ridge Drive area west of Greenville reported shots fired. Investigators found bullet-riddled trail signs.

On Sept. 5, a woman reported that she was assaulted while roller blading at about 11:30 a.m., according to Greenville Police.

The funding includes $555,000 in one-time costs for uniforms, equipment and vehicles, according to city documents, and would cost an additional $582,000 per year after that.

It doesn’t include the $500,000 budgeted for new security cameras or the additional street lights the city is installing this year.

The money comes from a combination of general funds, hospitality taxes and the law enforcement special revenue fund, documents show.

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