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Air Force Academy remains quiet on new trail rules after on-campus attacks

January 29, 2015 Updated: January 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm
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A trail marker near Stanley Creek on the 13-mile-long Falcon Trail at the United States Air Force Academy. Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE

The Air Force Academy is keeping mum when it comes to a "buddy system" rule that bars solo hiking, running and mountain biking on academy trails and open spaces.

Two days after releasing a statement attributing the new rule to on-campus attacks, the academy says it won't provide more details. A spokesman refused to divulge where and when the attacks occurred, what happened or whether anyone was injured.

"It's under investigation," academy spokesman Meade Warthen said.

Anyone using academy trails and open spaces must do so with at least one friend, according to the rule. The only exception is the Santa Fe Trail, which skirts the campus' eastern edge. The policy is temporary but will remain in place until further notice, the statement said, adding that it applies to visitors as well as Air Force personnel and others in uniform.

The statement provided little information about the basis for the change, saying only that someone was "physically assaulted" in December and again "more recently."

The academy is home to dozens of miles of trails, including the popular 13-mile Falcon Trail and the path to Eagle Peak.

The announcement quickly drew the notice of Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, a Colorado Springs cycling advocacy organization that says it's common for people to exercise alone on the trail. Having more people on the trails means a safer network, the group argued.

Asked if the academy has released enough information to allow the public to make an informed decision on whether to visit, Warthen said: "The decision they make will be based on the new requirement that they have a buddy when they use the trail."

Air Force security will perform "increased foot and vehicle patrols" and enforce the buddy system, the academy said.

While Warthen said warnings would be given to violators, an Air Force statement warned that violators could be ticketed or banned from campus. Those with information about any attacks on campus should contact the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at 719-333-3305.

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