A common-sense recycling program could increase mobility and fitness for the 100 or so Citizens On Patrol groups in Baltimore County this year.
Spurred by an insistent COP member in the Towson area, Baltimore County police will give abandoned or unclaimed bicycles to any citizen patrol group that wants them, provided the group has registered as a nonprofit organization. Lost or unclaimed bicycles traditionally have been sold at the department's annual auction.
"It just gives them another method to patrol," said John S. Reginaldi, a Baltimore County detective assigned to Youth and Community Resources. Reginaldi oversees the citizen patrol groups.
"I think it's a great program," said Officer Paul Ciepiela, a community outreach officer assigned to the Garrison precinct.
Although the program is just beginning -- Reginaldi sent a letter Jan. 21 to all COP groups announcing the bicycles' availability -- Ciepiela said that he has had inquiries from two of the 30 or so citizen patrol groups in his area.
"They have to do what they're comfortable with," Ciepiela said of the citizen patrol groups. "If they have an avid bike rider in their community, more power to them."
Sharon Lewetzki, who heads the Norwood-Holabird COP group, said the program will help her patrols.
Her group, which began about a year ago, has a couple of bicycles because the group raised money for them through carwashes and bake sales, she said. Getting additional bicycles from the police will allow her to increase bicycle patrols, she said.
"The bike patrol is popular enough that we can use some more," Lewetzki said. "Our goal has always been to have three separate bike patrols out at once."
One factor in bicycle-patrol popularity in her neighborhood, she said, is that the community outreach officer assigned to the area patrols on a bicycle.
"They always see him riding through the neighborhood," Lewetzki said.
She has plans for other kinds of wheels, too. "We're trying to get a Rollerblade patrol started," she added.
Reginaldi said that the bicycle program might allow some groups who have chosen the traditional method of patrolling in cars to try something new. Most citizen patrol groups in the county use cars, he said.
The idea of using unclaimed or abandoned bicycles came from Richard Bleser, a homeowner in the Stoneleigh neighborhood, near Towson. His citizen patrol group, which has about 100 members, uses bicycle patrols when weather permits, he said -- spring, summer and fall.
"In a car, you have speed and mobility," Bleser said. "But you have some 'stealth technology' on a bike -- you're not making a lot of noise as you pedal up."
And there's the health benefit.
"You're out, you're getting exercise," Bleser said.
Pub Date: 2/03/98