Harrisonburg Rape Case Raises Awareness about Personal Safety

By: Amelia Nahmias Email
By: Amelia Nahmias Email

HARRISONBURG, Va –- Sgt Joe Palaskey with the Harrisonburg Police Department said notifying the police of situations that just do not feel right can make a huge difference for one's personal safety.

"The police department does patrol, but there are only so many police officers out there,” said Palaskey. “We want to partner with the community, because we're all part of the same community."

That also includes a lot of college students. This weekend's alleged rape incident happened in the Camden Townes Townhomes complex, formerly known as Hunter's Ridge, where a lot of those students live.

"A lot of our students live in that area. It's an area that's very close to campus," said James Madison University Spokesperson Don Egle.

Both Harrisonburg police and campus police patrol the area.

"It is an off campus college area. I wouldn't say a problem area,” said Palaskey. “However, it could be a potential target area for those offenders who have that desire to commit certain crimes."

Matchbox Reality manages the home owners association of Hunters Ridge and the director said there is a night security guard six days a week. They patrol the grounds and call police if anything is out of the ordinary.

A Matchbox worker confirmed that there was a guard there when the incident occurred, but security can only do part of the job.

Egle says it takes an effort from everyone.

"We, as a community, need to partner together to make our community as a whole a safer place,” said Egle. “I think we do a pretty good job of that, but things like this are just a reminder."

Sgt Palaskey wanted to remind us to take control of our own safety and reduce opportunities for criminals.

"Leave a light on at night. Be aware of your surroundings. Lock your doors. Lock your windows," said Palaskey.

Egle said JMU sent a statement about the incident to students on Tuesday. He also wanted to remind students there are many resources around campus for those who have any questions or concerns.

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