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BEVERLY HILLS : Police Roll Out New Pedal Patrol in Time for Holidays

November 17, 1994|SUSAN STEINBERG

Gearing up law enforcement for the holiday shopping season, the police department has rolled out a new bicycle patrol.

Riding black mountain bikes adorned with police decals, three specially trained officers on Tuesday pedaled off for their first day of two-wheeled policing, patrolling the boutique-lined streets.

"The bikes give officers greater mobility to patrol crowded streets and alleys than . . . squad cars or motorcycles," said police spokesman Lt. Frank Salcido. "While the officers can't catch fleeing vehicles, they will be able to get through traffic more quickly than a car, and will be used as any other unit in dealing with serious crimes."

Besides patrolling the downtown area, the five-member bicycle unit will also police parks and parking garages. According to police, the bikes are less conspicuous than a car and may help prevent car burglaries and thefts.

The program, launched on a part-time basis, is expected to continue after the holiday season. Police officials say they hope it proves as successful with tourists and merchants as the department's 6-year-old "foot-beat program," in which an officer walks the business and shopping district.

Beverly Hills is the latest Westside city to start a bicycle patrol. Santa Monica and West Hollywood use similar downtown patrols.

"Small-town law enforcement agencies are discovering the bike patrol programs are more valuable then anyone had anticipated," Salcido said. He added that the 129-member department has long been interested in using bike patrols, but only recently could devote the five officers needed for the effort.

Police say they have hit the ground pedaling. All five Beverly Hills officers, they boast, placed in the top six spots at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department bicycle officer training course.

Said the program's supervisor, Capt. Robert Curtis: "The only one to beat them was an officer who had been a cyclist in the 1988 Olympic Games."

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