The U.P. Police Department is sporting a new set of wheels.
Deputies are now doing some of their patrols on bikes. U.P. Police Chief Mike Blair says bike patrols are currently being utilized in certain areas of the city, including the Village at Chambers Bay, parks and shopping centers.
“There is a real benefit to bike patrols because they enable us to support both proactive and responsive policing,” he said. “People appreciate the fact that these bike patrols are visible and connected to the area. Patrol cars can speed off to respond to a call on the other side of town. Bikes are much more tied to their assigned areas.”
Yet Blair also points out that because bikes can go places that patrol cars can’t, they can “disappear” a little more easily, which can be helpful for watching problem areas like remote and dark parking lots, parks, etc.
The U.P. Police Department has five bikes in its “fleet.” They had been used several years ago, but following staffing reductions, they were put in storage. Blair says he had them “tuned up” as he started to think about how he could incorporate them into his staffing schedules.
The U.P. Police Department now has bike patrols out every week, and Blair says he and his deputies continue to get lots of positive feedback from the community. “People tell us that they find it really easy to approach and interact with officers on the bike patrols. That’s important to us because we want to get to know the people we serve, and not just when we are responding to emergency calls,” he says.
“When we have the opportunity to increase our public visibility and interaction, people feel safer. That is the essence of community policing,” he says.