Bike Patrols to Provide Extra Sense of Security
Jun 14, 2016 08:20AM
● By Bryan Scott
Sergeant Steve Wooldridge rides his bike as Officer Dave Hedrick hops on his to follow at Fairmont Park on May 10. Bike patrols returned to the Sugar House area on May 1. – Travis Barton
Bike Patrols to Provide Extra Sense of SecurityBike Patrols to Provide Extra Sense of Security [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Criminals may now start running from two wheels instead of four in Sugar House.
Police bike patrols returned to the Sugar House area on May 1 after being reassigned to focus on the downtown area of Salt Lake City in June of 2014 as part of the Metro Support Bureau.
The program was revamped into the Strategic Deployment Bureau a year ago which saw officers occasionally come to the east side of Salt Lake as needed.
“As the need continued to be identified on the east side of the city, we pulled one of the squads and pushed them back over to the east side districts,” Wooldridge said.
The squad consists of five officers and one sergeant who have the option of exiting their squad car to deploy a more mobile approach. Wooldridge said the squad has been assigned to the area indefinitely with plans to help the west side squad and vice versa.
“I don’t think it’s a model we’ll go away from, we’ve seen what happens when it’s not here,” Detective Greg Wilking of the Salt Lake City Police Department said. “As long as it’s this administration we’ll probably keep them here.”
Judi Short, vice chair of the Sugar House Community Council, said having the bike patrols return has been “fantastic” and that people are very happy to see them return.
“It gives me a feeling of security to see them going down the street in my neighborhood,” Short said.
Officer Dave Hedrick, a member of the squad, said being publically visible by the community has already been a boost.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback just being at the parks, families being able to see us more,” Hedrick said. “Whereas in our car we just drive by so this way we’re able to have a more personal interaction.”
Wooldridge, part of law enforcement for 26 years, said it’s a different environment on the bike.
“We’re able to get into some of the areas where officers in cars don’t necessarily have the time to get to,” Wooldridge said.
Short said a good example of that is at Monument Plaza where she said skate boarders have caused damage to the recently installed stone benches.
“I’m hopeful that having the bike patrol there regularly will put a stop to this damage,” Short said.
The bike patrols have assisted parks in simple order maintenance by breaking up transient camps and having questionable behavior removed from the park.
“We immediately see a response from the public where couples or individuals walking their dogs will reclaim that part of the park and use it as intended,” Wooldridge said.
Even with bikes being weather-dependent, the officers still plan to patrol the parks during cold weather climates.
“Whether we’re on our bikes or in our vehicles, we’ll still make a presence,” Hedrick said.
It’s a presence Wooldridge said he wasn’t sure about, having never been on bike patrol before, but now appreciates.
“With all the positive feedback from the community, it’s like why haven’t I done this before,” Wooldridge said.
With his recent return to two-wheel transportation, Wooldridge said the squad stresses the importance of not only bicycle safety, but bike theft prevention as well. Something Wooldridge knows all too well from working with property crimes.
“Please please please license your bicycles,” Wooldridge said. “It allows us to have the serial number of the bicycle on record so should it get stolen, the chances of recovery in good condition are infinitely better.”
Even if the bike has some clear identifier like taped handlebars or a colored saddle bag, police officers can’t investigate without the serial number.
Bicycle licenses are $2 and can be obtained at the Salt Lake County Police Department as well as various bike shops and fire stations. Licenses are actually required by Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.
“You don’t wanna be picky and hammer people with that but it protects them,” Wilking said.