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COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : LOS ALAMITOS

Grant Pumps Up Police Bike Patrol

Four new sets of wheels, more equipment and streamlining of hours will make the more personalized method of law enforcement more visible.

September 01, 2000|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Residents will soon notice a greater police presence in Los Alamitos.

Thanks to a $9,933 grant from the state, the bicycle patrol unit will have four new bikes and a more regular schedule for officers.

The reorganized program will still be operated as a supplemental patrol unit, with officers working overtime hours. But officers will also get their own uniforms, helmets and other safety equipment that they previously shared for the unit's two bikes.

The new, lightweight bikes will also allow officers to patrol areas the old bikes could not traverse, such as flood control channels and certain areas of parks.

City officials like the program because it is a faster and more efficient means of patrolling parks, alleys, schools and shopping centers.

"I think with this new grant, especially around the middle and high schools, we can really make an impact with the children who will get to know the officers on a first-name basis," said Councilwoman Alice Jempsa.

"Like at dismissal times, parents want to get their children and get going home, and [traffic] can get hectic. Now the officers will be right there. They won't have to get out of their cars," she said.

The matching grant, the amount of which is determined by crime statistics in the city, requires the city to spend $1,104 on the program. Those funds will be used to purchase Polaroid cameras and hand-held computers as part of the bikes' equipment. The cameras will be used by officers for identification and documenting community-policing issues. Bicycles will also be equipped with lights and sirens.

Officials said the program offers more opportunities for officers to talk to residents and gain a better understanding of neighborhood problems.

"It used to be like the old cop on the street corner. Everybody used to know him and he was everybody's friend," Jempsa said. "It hasn't been like that for some time."

In addition to routine assignments, the bicycle unit also patrols special events such as the Fourth of July celebration, the annual 10K run and school bicycle safety presentations.

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Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.

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