DUBUQUE- When it comes to personal safety, Loras College student Samantha Heavlin knows that you can never be too careful.
“I don’t run after it gets dark. Like after 6:30, I don’t run at all,” Heavlin explains. “We’ve always had a buddy system (when running with the team). I’ve never really ran on my own.”
Heavlin is a first year cross country and track athlete at Loras. Just a month before making her move to Loras, she learned some shocking news.
University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was killed while out jogging alone in her small town of Brooklyn, Iowa.
As a runner, Heavlin resonated with the story.
“I just think that it’s really heartbreaking that girls have to really think about their safety when they’re just trying to exercise and get better,” Heavlin says. “It’s sad that we have to constantly watch our backs in order to feel safe.”
Attacks like Mollie’s are rare. But Lt. Joe Messerich (Public Information Officer for the Dubuque Police Department), reminds us that they could happen anywhere. He says that personal safety tactics and strategies are important no matter where you are.
“We need to be prepared for it, we need to be safe and employ good safety practices,” Messerich explains. “But we don’t necessarily need to live our life in fear.”
So what can joggers do to keep themselves safe? Lt. Messerich explains that being aware of your surroundings and limiting distractions is critical.
“It makes it very hard to be aware of our surroundings when we can’t hear anything… maybe run with the earbuds out so you can hear if somebody is coming up behind you.”
Traveling in groups, not carrying valuable items, and using whistles or yelling to ward off potential attackers are all among the list of tips recommended by The Dubuque Police Department.
Lt. Messerich also explains that it’s important to report any suspicious activity to authorities first, not social media.
“Make sure you know when it’s appropriate to call 911,” he says. “If you become aware of a dangerous situation on campus, those (social media pages) aren’t the first avenues we need to take. We need to let the proper people know.”
Amber Krieg is a junior at Loras from Dubuque, Iowa. She currently works as an Executive Producer and reporter for LCTV News. Amber is majoring in Media Studies with a minor in Public Relations. Outside of TV studio, she enjoys working in the theater with the Loras Players.