Ambassador program aims to keep Roanoke Greenway safe


ROANOKE (WSLS 10) – Close to 300,000 people use the Roanoke River Greenway each year. Local leaders want to make sure help is available along the path, if needed.

“We are getting more tourists so it is good to have someone who knows where things are. Where is there a bathroom or water fountain?” said Liz Belcher, Greenway Coordinator.

Belcher said the Greenway Ambassador program will kick off this summer. She hopes to have 12 to 20 trained volunteers, identified by brightly colored shirts or vests, help people along the path. In addition to providing information, the ambassadors will serve as an extra set of eyes and ears.

“The police department is helping to conduct the training. They’ll do scenarios of how to approach people in a non-confrontational way,” said Belcher. “What kind of things to spot as potentially unusual behavior. What they should report to 9-1-1 versus what you would report to the non-emergency number.”

The group starts nearly one month after Alexander Billow was convicted of abduction charges. Police said he groped a woman on the greenway last summer. Belcher said the Ambassador program is a proactive approach to preventing future problems.

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