CONVERSE, Texas – Converse police officers are sneaking up on crime in a new way. The agency recently launched bike patrol units to deter crime in the fast-growing city.
Six patrol offices have become more mobile by ditching patrol vehicles and getting on two wheels instead.
Officer Iris Mata said the change helps her get a better pulse about the problems in a neighborhood and interact with the community.
“Kids love it. You know, they ask, ‘Are you a real police officer? But you're on a bike. Where's your car?'” she said. “I think the number one question is, 'Where do you put somebody when you arrest them?'”
The police agency spent about $7,000 to purchase bicycles, uniforms and equipment for the six units. The officers still have their regular vehicles, but being on a bike allows them to sneak up on crime and patrol areas that vehicles can’t reach.
Thomas J. Richardson, who was hired to train the officers, has spent most of his three decades in law enforcement involved with bike patrols. He was most recently working with the San Antonio Police Department. He said bike patrols will be used to secure shopping centers, construction sites, parks and special events. There’s a lot of training that goes into being a specialized unit, he said.
“It's not just getting closer to the community. It's getting closer to whatever problem that they identify (with) and getting closer to those actors and those suspects, identifying who they are, identifying their patterns, how they move, what they do,” Richardson said.
Officers on bicycles are more exposed to the elements and vehicles. They also must stay in top shape to respond to calls and be able to function once they arrive.
Converse police hope to have 10 bike units by next spring.