In the interest of increased community interaction between local law enforcement and the merchants and patrons of downtown, the police department’s bike patrol division is getting back on the road. Having recently completed a required State of Florida 40 hour certification course, the four initiated officers now await their downtown holiday patrol kick off date of November 23.
“We grabbed our bikes, got them cleaned up and tuned up and had our officers complete their mandatory training. This included biking 20 to 30 miles daily, learning to ride up and down stairs, and acquiring new arrest techniques like how to scoop up your bike and chase a suspect,” said Major of Operations Rene Landa.
Major Landa also quoted a 2007 industry study stating that police bike patrols increased community contact by as much as ten percent. “That is what we want, to give business owners and shoppers a chance to more readily express their concerns to our officers, especially during the holiday season.”
“This is all about visibility and enhanced communication. Not only is it easier for us to talk to the community we serve on bikes but we can also be more aware of potential incidents if we are in the immediate area and not driving around in a vehicle with the windows up,” said Landa.
Senior Trainer and bike patrolman Officer Al Alvarez led the week long certification program for Officers Matthew Taylor, Leo Hernandez and Christopher Cosio. “These guys are the cream of the crop. They know how to serve above and beyond the call of duty and they do. We can observe congested areas better on a bike then in a car and it is easier to get around traffic to secure an arrest,” said Alvarez.
South Miami resident Officer Matthew Taylor is enthusiastic about his new bike patrol assignment. “I love working in South Miami because it offers you such a small town feel that is not easy to find in Miami. The patrol will enable us to meet people on a different level and interact with the public in a new way.”
The bike patrol will launch downtown on November 23 and continue their rotation through December 23. After that time the department will re-assign and re-evaluate their presence to set up routes where most needed. Ultimately the police department hopes that most officers will have bike racks and bicycles on their vehicles for easy access as the situation demands.