Police should try pedal patrols

January 17, 2010

Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III is to be applauded for his efforts to make officers more accessible to citizens by taking them out of their cars ("City putting police back on foot patrol," Jan. 7). However, foot patrol is not the only alternative. Police officers on bikes can patrol more territory and respond more quickly than officers on foot. They can also move easily through congested areas and access alleys, parks, trails and other areas off-limits to cars. They can be swift and silent, approaching crimes in progress virtually unnoticed, often from unexpected directions and locations.

Additionally, police on bikes can engage youth, generate positive community relationships and serve as role models. They can be integrated into a wide range of operations, including community-oriented and problem-oriented policing, targeted enforcement, surveillance, public order and drug interdiction. Finally, bicycles are cost-effective and environmentally friendly and promote officer fitness.

Baltimore has many neighborhoods and business districts beyond the Inner Harbor that would benefit greatly from the approachability, versatility and mobility of bike officers. Commissioner Bealefeld is encouraged to fully explore the potential of bicycle patrols in his efforts to garner community support and enhance neighborhood safety. Allocating a portion of the $10 million federal grant to equipment and training for bike patrols would be a worthwhile investment.Maureen Becker, Baltimore

The writer is president of the International Police Mountain Bike Association.

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