Police Bicycle Patrol launch

Police Bicycle Patrol launch

National News

Canterbury Police are getting back on their bikes. Bicycle patrols in the city will be launched at;

Police Kiosk in Cathedral Square,

12 noon Wednesday, 28th October 2009.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker
Area Commander Inspector Derek Erasmus
O/C Beat Unit Senior Sergeant Gordon Spite
Central Tactical Coordinator Senior Sergeant Phil Dean
Sergeants Greg Hume and Chris Brooks

In a fresh initiative, Police officers in Central Christchurch will be back on bicycles in a throw-back to yesteryear.

"This is another tool available for us to use to combat crime," says District Commander Dave Cliff. "It's all part of our high visibility policing strategy."

Officers have worked on bicycles previously from Beat in years gone by, however this time the bicycles are supplied by Police and they plan to be out amongst the public more often.

"Everything that we do on foot in terms of patrolling, we'll be doing with bikes," says Sergeant Greg Hume of the city Beat Unit. "Bicycles are versatile, they are stealthy, and increase accessibility. We intend to be utilising them year round, weather dependent." Initially there are four bicycles available to staff who will be attired in their normal duty uniform with the addition of a cargo-type trouser and high-visibility vest, and of course a helmet.

Inspector Derek Erasmus, Area Commander says that bicycles will enable officers to get to the four corners of Central Christchurch.

"Christchurch has always been a keen cycling city and the central area is all flat. It makes sense to use bikes to get down the back alleys. When staff need assistance they can always call on vehicular transport as officers on foot do now. Otherwise we hope they can lock their bike or leave it at a friendly business should they need to escort someone on foot."

The idea of Police bicycle patrols or ‘Cycle Cops’ is not a new concept, as widely evident in the US and other countries. The standard bicycle was largely introduced to policing world-wide in the 1890’s but declined with the advent of motorised transport. The Seattle Police Department, which is credited with the renaissance of bicycle patrols in 1987, says its patrols make up to five times more arrests than `foot only' patrols.

Christchurch’s flat-terrain in particular makes it bicycle friendly and therefore suitable to Police bicycle patrols. Such patrols will become a unique feature of law enforcement in this city and have the potential to be mirrored by suburban policing areas. In the last census over 9000 people over the age of 15 said that they cycle to work regularly in the city and this does not include innumerable school children and students or recreational cyclists.

The benefits of bicycle patrols are numerous, notably the high-visibility generated with increased distance covered at greater pace as opposed to the confines of the slower foot patrols, and greater manoeuvrability and speed in congested road traffic when responding to tasks and incidents. Bicycles will enable Beat staff and the Community Liaison Team to patrol more frequently all corners of the Four-Avenues and potentially beyond, including Hagley Park and various shopping mall car parks.

Getting local Police on to bicycles should not be too much of a problem as several of the officers based at the city Beat Unit are well known in competitive cycling circles; namely Sergeant Hume who has competed extensively in France prior to joining Police, and Sergeant Chris Brooks who continues to compete domestically.

"We're all general fitness fanatics," laughs Hume. "Staff have embraced the concept of patrolling on bicycles and look forward to its crime-fighting capabilities."

“A bicycle patrol is also fantastic for public events such as concerts, sporting events, festivals, road races and other large gatherings. An officer can move quickly through a crowd while on a bike, and can find short cuts, etc, where a patrol car would have very diminished mobility in the same situation," says Inspector Erasmus. "An officer on a bike is much smaller, quieter, and can go places that are not easily accessible to patrol vehicles. Also, a person fleeing from an officer generally can't out run an officer on a bike!"

Inspector Erasmus and Sergeant Hume are available through Christchurch Central; phone 03 363 7400.