Residents of La Habra may do a double take the next time a bike goes riding by.
That’s because for the first time in two decades, the person riding the bike just may be a La Habra police officer now that two officers convinced the department to resurrect the long dormant Bike Patrol unit.
“We had one 20 years ago and it was very well-received at that time,” said acting Capt. Jeff Swaim. “But staffing and budget for the Bike Patrol dissipated and it went away.”
About a year ago, Officer Rob Sims and Corp. Victor Rubalcava made the pitch that the Bike Patrol should come back to life.
“It was important because it allows officers to become more engaged with our community,” Sims said. “People feel much more comfortable approaching officers when they are out on bicycles.”
The Bike Patrol is popular duty among officers and detectives, as it affords a chance for exercise, to be outside and to dress a bit more casual, Swaim said.
Still, to be part of the Bike Patrol unit, each officer must undergo 24 hours of vigorous and challenging training and in turn they must pass written and practical exams.
In addition to the high visibility and officer appeal, the Bike Patrol is an effective crime deterrent as well.
Those thinking of committing crimes don’t usually expect to be approached by an officer on a bicycle, Sims said. The bikes are quiet and allow officers to get to places that would be more difficult to reach in a patrol unit or even by foot.
“We have come up on crimes in progress and have been able to make an arrest,” Sims said. “The advantage to the community is that when they see an officer on bike patrol, they often feel more comfortable reporting suspicious activity that would otherwise go unreported. That puts us in a position to stop crime before it happens.”
And so far, it has been a hit with La Habra residents.
“The community has been extremely pleased to see officers out on bike patrol,” Sims said. “We have spent many hours patrolling residential areas where community members just aren’t used to seeing officers. I have personally been stopped by people in their front yard who have simply said ‘thank you for watching out for us.’ It’s a good feeling to know you make a difference to people like that.”
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