Constitution Trail is an asset the Bloomington-Normal community holds near and dear to its heart. With its 24-mile stretch, it showcases the best of the Twin Cities’ nature.

Unfortunately, this image is slowly being tarnished with news of attacks on citizens and Illinois State University students.

Four years ago, a teenager was hospitalized after an attacker struck him in the head with a stick. At the end of the past spring semester, then-senior Emily Houska was walking along the trail when a man smashed into her from behind, pushed her into the woods and beat her in the face. And just last weekend a student was battered by two male suspects.

The examples are countless, but how many more people need to experience an awful event before serious action is taken? The amount of security on Constitution Trail needs to increase during all times of day to protect the many people that take advantage of its beauty.

With school back in session and people still taking in the late summer weather, the trail is a popular landmark for all. Whether they are going to Uptown Normal, ISU’s campus or just going on a walk, people are on the trail at any of time of day. Since so many people use the trail, the need for security is more and more necessary. If the Bloomington-Normal community wants to keep its people safe, this is a good start.

I live on Vernon Avenue, close to where the latest attack took place. Knowing that it occurred not too far away makes it the only thing I can think of when I walk past it.

While I love seeing elderly couples walking in the morning when I go to school, and that’s what I want to picture when I think of the trail, I still can’t help but think about many of the dangers that lie in the 24 miles. I don’t want any fellow Redbirds or community members getting hurt just enjoying a morning stroll or afternoon workout. Constitution Trail should be a calm place for people to go about their business peacefully.

I think many people would agree with me when I say I would feel more comfortable if there were more police officers stationed throughout the entire trail at all hours of the day. Some of the areas covered with a lot of greenery definitely need to be watched more carefully, but as we saw last week, even a popular and open area like Vernon Avenue can come under attack.

Children should be able to race and ride their bikes with their friends. Runners should be able to get their morning jog and workout in without having to worry about getting beat in the face in broad daylight. Students should be able to use the trail as a shortcut to get to class or Uptown Normal. Even though these “should” statements should already be happening, having an officer’s watchful eye monitoring the trail can ensure they happen all the time.

If officers are stationed every few miles or so and their presence is known, many would-be attackers might think again before assaulting an innocent trail user. Since an officer is close by, attackers have a higher chance of being caught and arrested, so they might think twice about harming someone.

Constitution Trail is normally a safe place for people of all ages to take advantage of. However, when stories of assaults surface, it shows the community things aren’t always as safe as they seem to be. To protect citizens and hopefully stop more attacks from happening, more officers are needed on the trail. They will be able to protect us when we think we least need it.

EMA SASIC is a junior journalism major and News Editor and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to vidette_esasic@ilstu.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @ema_sasic

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