By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Tulsa's River Parks is beefing up security. They've added hours, staff, and a new set of wheels to make sure your trip to the trails is a safe one.
You may have seen them on Tulsa streets, but a Smart car is hitting the trails. The Park Patrol traded in their ATV for the tiny car, because it's small enough to share the path with cyclists, but it's still street legal.
And, it's helped expand their territory from both sides of the river to include the trails on Turkey Mountain.
"In the event that something does happen here in the park, we want to be available to them to be their first line. If something happens, they can see us and they can know they can come to us," said RiverParks' Perry Marler.
Last year, Perry Marler and his team patrolled more hours than ever before. They're monitoring the trails for four hours in the morning and for summer they're also out for eight hours in the evening. Officers say they spend most of their time helping park users who have gotten hurt, lost or locked out. Some, 2,800 people fell into that category last year.
And, much of their work comes at the end of their shift.
"A lot of people don't realize that the park closes at 11 p.m. So, we spend a lot of time letting people know that the curfew is 11 o'clock and they need to make their way out of the park," said RiverParks' Perry Marler.
The Park Patrol reports they only assisted Tulsa Police with 10 arrests in 2008. And, they only removed about 40 people from the park. Marler says he's just here to make sure people have a good, safe time.
"I tell people we're here as more a proactive approach rather than a problem. We just want people to feel safe here. And, we really don't have a lot of issues and we want to keep it that way," said RiverParks' Perry Marler.
The Park Patrol's Smart car was paid for by RiverParks Friends. And the city, county, and the Kaiser Foundation pitched in to pay for the patrol's five part time officers.