Feature — Police on Bikes
Leave the car at the station...
After a long time of depending on motorised vehicles, police units around the world are starting to see once again the value of bicycles for policing. The Parramatta command was the first in Sydney to adopt bikes, and it was an instant success in community policing. It now receives calls from other units wanting to start their own. It has grown to 14 members, has achieved 246 arrests and laid more than 300 charges. It has contributed in bringing Parramatta down from the 3rd worst crime area to a ranking of 21.
In this issue of CAMWEST News, we interview Senior Constable Dave Flood, a keen cyclist and an officer in the Parramatta police unit. He tells us how it all started, describes a typical day in the bike unit, and shares his thoughts on cycling in Western Sydney.
Using bikes for policing is a very cost-effective way of fighting crime and working together with the community. The advantages:
- Bikes are quiet, making them very effective in catching people red-handed.
- Bikes are deceptively fast in urbanised areas. They can get to spots where cars would find it very hard.
- They are very cheap to buy and maintain, providing better value for our tax dollar.
- Much larger areas can be covered than on foot.
- Higher morale and health for officers.
- It encourages cyclists to follow road rules.
- It raises awareness of bikes as a legitimate road users (and a great way to get around).
- It lets police departments play their part in reducing pollution in our cities and looking after our environment.
- Perhaps most importantly, police on bikes have a higher community profile. They are noticed more than cars, which can seem inaccessible and distant. This gives the community the sense that there is help at hand, while providing a powerful deterrent to crime. For example, bikes could be addressing things like drug trafficing or the recent sex assaults in the Parramatta and Westmead area.
An article titled Cities Turning to Bicycles, from the Worldwatch Institute, estimates that "more than 2,000 police departments in the United States, Canada, Australia, Iceland, and Russia have bicycle units, with some 10,000 officers on bikes". It was found that arrest-rates jumped when bikes were introduced.
CAMWEST is a great supporter of bike policing and congratulates those involved. The NSW Police service could expand on this great initiative:
- Expand the size and number of the units, especially in highly urbanised areas.
- Provide high-quality, standardised bikes and equipment. Officers need special uniforms so they are noticed and confortable while riding.
- Look into electrical power-assisted bikes, such as the ZAP Police Bikes. These allow officers to respond to emergency calls quickly while not being 'out of breath' when arriving at the scene.
- Work at coordinating motorised and non-motorised police units. For example, providing good support to bike units when they make arrests.
Other areas where bikes could be used are:
- Security guards, especially for large industrial sites.
- First Aid units in large events, such as concerts, demonstrations and the Olympics.
- Parking officers covering a number of areas, such as Parramatta, Westmead, Harris Park, etc.
Police escort in one of our rides
What you can do:
Parramatta Commander: Dana Jennings
95 Marsden Street, PARRAMATTA 2150
Phone: 02 9633 9633 Fax: 02 9633 0795.
Mountain Bike Association:
Bike Cops FAQ
Police on Bikes Conference (Cincinnati, OH, May 2 - 5, 2001)
Zap Law Enforcement Electric Bikes
NSW Police Service
Law Enforcement Bicycle Association
Bicycle Patrols in South Australia
Cities Turning to Bicycles - Worldwatch Briefing
Bicycling Life Police on Bikes article
Charleston Police Bicycle Patrol
City of Ithaca - Bicycle Patrol
Avanti Barracuda: the standard for bicycle police units proposed by Snr Cnst Dave Flood.
So what do you think? Do you support police units expanding on this idea? Have you seen any in action around your area? Let us know by mailing us at contac (AT) camwest.pps.com.au, and we'll publish your thoughts. Join our mailing lists.[an error occurred while processing this directive]