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Issue of runner safety becoming more prominent in Gallatin County

Runner safety becomes a hot topic following teacher abduction in Memphis
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Posted at 5:15 PM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-27 19:03:53-04

Following the abduction of Eliza Fletcher in Memphis, a lot of women around Gallatin County and around the nation now question their safety while running. A case like Fletcher's is not anything new to Montana.

The cases of Sherry Arnold and Kari Swenson were both women out for a run in Montana when they were abducted by men. Sherry Arnold was kidnapped outside of Sidney and was strangled to death by the two men who abducted her. Kari Swenson was abducted while running around Ulerys lake in Big Sky and was held captive for 18 hours before being rescued.

When things like this happen, runners like Laura Frazier have to think more cautiously when they're out doing their normal exercise.

“It brings all those fears back to life. You kind of forget about them for a while because you think nothing happens. It's Bozeman, but then you hear a story like that and all of a sudden you are 10 times more aware when you're running,” says Frazier.

WATCH: Tips to stay safe for runners

Safety tips for runners

Detective Captain of the Bozeman Police Department, Dana McNeil, spoke with us about some safety precautions runners should take if they are running alone to put their mind at ease.

“Carry some type of self-defense weapons when they're out and running it obviously can be a huge inconvenience for people to run and have to carry something like that. But if that's something that gets people peace of mind, that's something they can certainly do,” says McNeil.

And as a runner, Frazier says she takes as much precaution as possible when running around town and on local trails.

“Sometimes I'll take pepper spray or I do what most girls do I wear my hair in a bun instead of a ponytail it’s harder to grab on to," says Frazier, "I will not run if it's dark out period. Which sucks in the winter because that's at like 6 pm.”

And although there should be precautions taken anywhere for runners, Captain McNeil says the city of Bozeman is a place for women to feel safe while running.

“Overall we’re in a really safe community, it's always best to be someplace that's visible or to be with somebody when you're out doing any type of activity," says McNeil, "In our city, there really isn't a place that I would tell you that you shouldn't be.”