AMES, Iowa -- Following the murder of Iowa State golfer - Celia Barquin Arozamena - last week, the City of Ames is rethinking how it approaches community safety. City Departments are reviewing policies and looking for improvements. Police are re-evaluating the current practice of being primarily complaint driven, when it comes to dealing with camping on public property. Police want to find a way to routinely visit the interior of public areas without waiting for complaints.
"One of the things that we`ve looked at is remote places or public spaces that maybe doesn`t get monitored as closely as we would like," said Susan Gwiasda, Public Relations Officer for the City of Ames. "We can't be everywhere all the time, but we can implement a schedule or more routine opportunities to check those places and make sure that things are okay."
The City is also taking action to make it more difficult for people to hide behind trees, shrubs, and vegetation. Ames PD as well as Parks and Recreation are concentrating on parkland and green spaces in the community. There are some 1200 such acres in Ames. The City is focusing on safety-related maintenance in and around trails, lighting, monitoring of wooded areas, and vegetation management. The Invasive Species Task Force is exploring safe removal of vegetation that creates "cover" or blocks visibility.
"A lot of the vegetation that`s encroaching upon those areas is invasive," said Joshua Thompson, Parks and Facilities Superintendent for the City of Ames. "And, we've got to get on top of that and get that controlled...Invasive species like bush honeysuckle, buckthorn can really take over an area really quickly, and if we remove a lot of that stuff to open up the forest floor, so we can see the trees, basically, so we can have individuals look through those trees and there`s no hindrances of sight."
But no matter how visible an area is, police and other city officials can't monitor everywhere all of the time, which is why they're encouraging every resident to take an active role in improving safety.
"As the police department often will say, if you see something say something," said Gwiasda. "So, we want to emphasize to our residents and to our guests and visitors that if something seems unusual, if something in Ames doesn't seem quite right, regardless of how small or insignificant that might seem, we want you to tell us."