Whiteville Police hit the streets on two wheels
By Jefferson Weaver, The News Reporter
Kids aren’t the only ones with new bicycles this Christmas. Several Whiteville Police officers are patrolling the streets on two wheels.
Chief Jeff Rosier said that the police department has initiated a new bicycle patrol program after hearing from the community and discussing the program with officers. The bikes hit the streets Dec. 11.
Bicycle patrols are becoming more common nationally, even with smaller departments like Whiteville. Beach and resort communities make extensive use of bicycles, as do municipalities with congested downtown areas that see extensive foot traffic. Bikes can allow officers to make nearly silent approaches on suspects in neighborhoods, as well as having the ability to move more quickly down sidewalks and alleys.
Enforcement isn’t the only plus to the bicycle patrols, Rosier said. Bikes also make it easier for officers to meet those they’re protecting and serving.
“Our goal is for officers to be out of the patrol cars and easily approachable for our community members,” Rosier explained. “This program is just another opportunity for proactive community policing in our communities and the business districts of the city.”
Bicycle patrols were suggested a number of times through the years, but Rosier’s administration is the first to aggressively pursue the practice. The department purchased refurbished bikes for the patrols, as well as high-visibility safety uniforms and specialized equipment. A number of officers have also been selected to participate, he said.
“Several community members have requested this type of patrols in their neighborhoods,” Rosier said.
The International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) notes that police bikes began being used in America in the late 1860s, and became common by the late 1890s, especially in cities with paved roads. Material shortages in World War II gave a boost to bicycle patrols to save gasoline. Many large college and university campuses, as well as industrial facilities, use bicycle-mounted police.
The IPMBA notes on its website that communities using bicycle patrols see an increase in positive police interactions as well as crime prevention in congested areas.