Come July 4, a new police patrol will hit the streets in Porterdale.
Four of the village’s officers will form the department’s bicycle unit, another component of Chief Jason Cripps’ efforts to remove barriers between law enforcement and the community. Sergeant Robert Boisis, a two-year veteran of the village police force, will supervise the four officers.
Matt Munger and James Finnell are the first two officers who have volunteered to serve on the bicycle patrol unit and have been trained at the policy academy in the specialized policing. Boisis said the plan is to train another two officers who volunteer to become part of the bicycle patrol.
Recently, Munger said, they showed the bikes to those attending a village block party and got a positive response. The block parties, held throughout the summer in the village’s pocket parks, have been another one of Cripps’ initiatives to improve police and community relationships.
The bicycle unit, Boisis said, “is another way to connect with the community. We’ve been working hard on it for two years.”
“One of our big goals is to build police and community relationships,” Munger agreed. The main benefit of bike patrols “is the interaction with the public, especially at big events.”
All four officers will be trained and ready to ride by Porterdale’s Fourth of July celebrations.
Munger is excited to be part of the new unit. “When we have big events like the Fourth of July or Halloween, we can get deeper in the crowds. We can also patrol walking trails, subdivisions and back alleys,” places, he said, they can’t easily access in a patrol car.
“It gets officers out of their patrol cars and into the community,” Boisis said. “It increases officer visibility.”
The first of the four bicycles needed for the unit was donated to the department ten years ago and was refurbished at Square Bikes in Covington. The shop also sold the department the three additional bicycles needed for the unit. All of the equipment was paid for out of the drug money seized by the department.
Mike Besaw, owner of Square Bikes in Covington, has been working with the Porterdale officers to get the unit outfitted. The 62-inch black Fuji Mountain Bikes has seven high and three low gears and have 29-inch diameter tires.
“Everything on the bike has to be customized by Mike,” Boisis said. “He really went above and beyond to do it.”
Racks able to hold up to three bikes have been mounted on the back of four patrol cars. Recently, Having the bike patrol units will be really beneficial when the new subdivisions and apartments go in, Munger said.
The officers’ uniforms will consist of black and yellow bike shirts, black bike pants and a light weight Airius helmet.
Besaw recommended it as the safest helmet on the market, with increased comfort.
The uniforms, Munger said, will make officers visible to traffic and keep them cool.
Two officers will patrol on bikes together for protection. How the bike patrol units evolves will be based on the needs of the village, Boisis said. He believes the bike unit will grow as the population of Porterdale increases. The construction of two new subdivisions and apartments off of the Covington Bypass Road will add to the village’s growth.
The two officers hope the bike unit will encourage Porterdale’s residents to get out and ride their own bikes. Someday, Munger said, the police department might hold an event like a bike ride as another way to connect with the community.