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City of McAllen adds safety features to hike and bike trails

The city of McAllen recently added three new emergency call boxes along hike and bike trails along Bicentennial Boulevard.

The city of McAllen recently added three new emergency call boxes to hike and bike trails along Bicentennial Boulevard.

The new safety features were installed at the intersections of Chicago, Tamarack and Dove Avenue, and add to the existing network of call boxes available along the trails on 2nd Street. They are equipped with lighting, solar panels and a direct audio connection to the McAllen Police Department.

“So, they don't have to dial a number or anything. They just walk up to the emergency call box,” said McAllen Parks and Recreation deputy director of operations Robert Canterbury. “There is a sensor in there that monitors the decibels-- it activates the systems, takes photos, notifies the police department immediately and they can respond rapidly."

The city of McAllen sees about 150 incidents of violent crimes a year, according to neighborhoodscout.com, a real estate website that also provides crime statistics. The website lists violent crimes as murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults.

"I believe what triggered this was we actually had a couple of incidents back in 2014 on our hike and bike trails where there were some assaults and that's what really triggered the need for, “Let’s see what else we can do to provide additional security," said McAllen Parks and Recreation deputy director of operations Robert Canterbury.

The new emergency boxes are paid for by a justice assistance grant that the McAllen Police Department applied for in 2015.

"It’s for approximately $15,000,” Cantebury said. “The cost for three emergency call boxes is about $16,000 for materials only, so the city puts in the difference and the city staff does the installation part.”

Canterbury says the emergency call boxes should be up and running in the next week or so.

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