We talk a lot about being "park smart" around here. We know you pull into the park, look around, and think, wow, what a beautiful place with people walking and biking, smiling and enjoying themselves. This is true, but it's always a good idea to set yourself up for success and enjoy a safe visit to The Parklands - that's what we call being “park smart”, or what those in the law enforcement field call “situational awareness”.
This time of year, as visitation increases, we often see an upswing in "smash and grab" vehicle thefts. We work closely with LMPD officers and they have increased their monitoring of The Parklands, but they can't be everywhere all the time. This is why the first step in being park smart is to leave your valuables at home. If you are unable to do so, do NOT leave them in plain sight in your vehicle or near your picnic. Hide them in your trunk or under your seats in your vehicle. Don’t invite an opportunity- leaving a cell phone, iPad, wallet or purse in your seat may prove too tempting for a desperate criminal.
The second part of being park smart is being aware of your surroundings. This can be realized in many ways. The first is to keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious or out of place. Develop a “360 Mindset”, which means that you should be aware of what is happening to the sides and behind you, not just in front of you. This can be especially important when hiking on our trails where you will need to think spherically - know what is going on above you as well as below you. Trail conditions are constantly changing therefore, please be aware of low level branches and roots which tend to pop up.
If you notice anything dangerous or suspicious, please report it to Park Ranger (502)584-0350 or you can call LMPD (502) 574-2111. Make sure you are aware of weather conditions and forecast before you set out- you don’t want to be a mile into the woods when a storm is on the way. It’s also a good idea to tell a friend or family members where you’ll be hiking or riding before you head out, and be sure to carry a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help.
The less obvious part of being aware of your surroundings comes into play when you are on shared used trails, like the Louisville Loop or a hike/bike trail. Keep to the right of the path, allowing for those who would like to pass to pass on the left. If you’re approaching someone on a trail and would like to pass, be sure to give them a verbal signal to let them know you’re coming. And don’t speed by them too quickly. If you’re walking a dog, make sure to keep them on leash and under your control. Don’t let them drift into the “passing lane”, and don’t forget to pick up after them; it’s the courteous thing to do.
Another thing you’ve likely heard is the phrase “leave no trace”. This means you should stay on marked trails, clean-up after yourself, and dispose of trash and recyclables in proper receptacles. This also means you shouldn’t collect fossils, flowers, wildlife, etc. from the parks to take home with you. If you take them home they will not be there for the next person to enjoy. It goes without saying this also means not to post graffiti. All graffiti in The Parklands will be removed, which means more work for our team.
Do not feed or harass wildlife. No ATVs, fireworks, glass containers, open fires, dumping, littering or alcohol is allowed on park property. And be sure to park in designated areas. We realize parking can come at a premium on busy, sunny days in the parks, but parking off-road causes damage to the turf and natural areas. If your favorite parking area is full, move on to the next one and explore from there – maybe you’ll find something new you love about The Parklands!
Here are some other tips from our safety page, make sure you visit the page and brush up on park rules and recommendations, including:
Watch a short video about being Park Smart:
Emergency: Call the non-emergency line at (502)574-LMPD or call 911 in the case of an emergency.
General Parklands Information: (502) 584-0350
Remember, this park belongs to all of us. We rely on our visitors for feedback and for their help reporting on park conditions. Our ranger and maintenance teams are out in the park every day, but being park smart means you’re doing your part, too. Thanks for your help!
Ranger Pete, who hails from Long Island, New York, is a graduate of the University of Louisville where he was a member of the football team for four years. Before coming on as The Parklands’ first Chief Ranger in August of 2012, Pete retired as Sergeant from Louisville Metro Police Department where he worked in many departments including homicide, patrol, narcotics, S.W.A.T and the Public Integrity Unit. Pete has two daughters and enjoys working out, cycling and running in his spare time. Contact me about: Park Safety, Report Graffiti or Suspicious Activity, Report Trespassing
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