Headphones, lack of awareness can prove perilous when jogging
by Amanda Stegall
Aug 15, 2011 | 3333 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Cartersville police officer can often be spotted driving through Dellinger Park. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
A Cartersville police officer can often be spotted driving through Dellinger Park. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Many runners consider an iPod or mp3 player to be their best companion during a relaxing jog. Yet, Cartersville police disagree and warn of the dangers lurking beyond the headphones.

"You've got to have a 360-degree perspective about you all the time," said CPD Chief Thomas Culpepper. "People get hurt because they don't pay attention to what they're doing and don't look around and see what's going on."

"A lot of people, when jogging, put in both ear buds," said CPD Lt. Mark Camp, "but the minute you do that, you diminish your awareness of your surrounding audibly. So why not just wear one? Then, at least, you've got one ear open so you can hear someone running up behind you."

Although no police reports have been filed in regard to people being physically harmed, the concern of criminal activity in areas frequented by joggers, particularly in parks, is evident as CPD officers patrol Dellinger, where there have been reports of vehicles being broken into, and signs warning visitors not to leave valuables in their vehicles are visible throughout the parking lot.

"When you come around to your car, walk around the car and look in the car," Camp said. "At Dellinger, that's ideal because there are trees that someone could be hiding near. Make sure there's no one crouching down by your car or up under it."

"People don't stop and scan the parking lot," Culpepper said. "Are you the only car on the edge of a parking lot and have exposed yourself unnecessarily? People don't need to be so impatient and should wait to find a better parking spot."

For joggers or anyone visiting the parks, Camp advises making eye contact with every passing individual.

"People don't like to make eye contact -- it makes them uncomfortable," he said. "A study with prisoners asked them why they chose the person they did for their victim. Their answer was because they looked weak; they looked like a victim.

"If you get out there, keep your head up. If someone comes at you, look at them and say good morning or good afternoon. Then when they pass, take a glance over your shoulder and see if they continue to pass or if they've turned around," Camp said. "A lot of people get out there and get absorbed in walking or thinking and are not aware."

Along with knowing the surroundings, Culpepper advises everyone to use common sense when jogging or walking anywhere. Common tips from www.jogging101.com include letting someone know where you're going, carrying a cellphone and wearing identification. Zippered pockets, arm bands or a zipper bag that can be worn, such as a fanny pack, are recommended by the site.

"It's like teaching a kid to cross a street," Culpepper said. "Look to the right, look to the left, then look to the right again. I just encourage people to be aware of their surroundings."