Park Police Statement on Safety Following Rape on Northwest Branch Trail

The Maryland-National Capital Park Police issued the following statement regarding the safety of nearby trails following the investigation of a rape that occurred on Northwest Branch Trail in Silver Spring:

The Maryland-National Capital Park Police are committed to safe trails. The park system in Montgomery County has over 200 miles of maintained trails to include natural and asphalt surface.  In addition, there are approximately 200 additional non-maintained trails.  The Park Police patrol extensive trail systems using horses, motorcycles, ATVs, and bicycles.  In addition to police officers, the Maryland-National Capital Park Police also utilizes civilian patrols and Rangers.

The Park Police have increased patrols on all of our trails.  We want to reassure our employees and the public that our number-one mission is to ensure the safety of our employees and the public while they are utilizing their park system.

Many of the 14 million annual visitors to the park system use the over 200 miles of natural, hard surface, and asphalt trails.  While these trails are patrolled by the Park Police, Rangers, and Volunteers, you should follow these important safety tips:

  • Most parks and trails are closed at dark.  Check park hours before you travel.
  • There is safety in numbers, so travel with a friend.
  • Travel in the daylight or well lighted areas.
  • Avoid dark, vacant, or deserted areas; use well-lit and traveled areas.
  • Carry a cell phone with 911 and non-emergency police phone numbers pre-programmed.
  • DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES! This limits your ability to hear people approaching and tells would-be robbers that you have something valuable (like an iPod).  If you must use headphones, then wear one side only.
  • Tell someone the route you are taking and when you will be back.
  • Vary your route and times frequently.
  • Carry a whistle or noise maker and use it if you feel threatened.
  • Carry identification.
  • Dress in clothes and shoes that will not hamper movement.
  • Know your location on the trail at all times.
  • Be alert to your surroundings and trust your instincts.
  • Report suspicious activity to park Police at 301.949.8010.


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