By Paul Collins, Jan 29, 2017, Martinsville Bulletin
MARTINSVILLE VA — The Martinsville Police Department recently restructured, putting community-oriented policing and community outreach under what is now the community resources unit, said police Sgt. Ben Peters.
That means instead of the bike patrol having a sergeant and a patrol officer, it now has two sergeants. The group can also call in more police personnel and resources as needed; and bike patrol personnel are doing crime analysis to target resources and personnel in high-crime spots based on service calls, according to Peters.
Peters and Sgt. Lane Clark are the two full-time personnel assigned to the bike patrol.
"We are a resource to the community. If you see us out and have an issue, come up and talk to us," Peters said. "We will try to get the resources you need."
"The best way to reduce crime is to work closely with the community in addressing problems," Peters said.
Peters and Clark typically talk to at least 200 people a day on their bike patrols — in neighborhoods and businesses.
"Without a (police) car barrier, I get a lot more contact with citizens," Peters said. "We want to be approachable."
Clark said one of the bike patrol’s focuses is talking with uptown business personnel. "The parking issue is one of the biggest issues," Clark said.
Peters said he and Clark also stop by other businesses in the city.
Officers on bikes can go where police cars can’t go — such as alleys, back yards, paths and trails in the woods.
Clark said that when the weather warms, the bike patrol will monitor the Dick & Willie trail.
Depending on the weather, a typical day on the bike patrol involves riding a bike 12 to 15 miles, Peters said. However, he stressed the emphasis is not on the distance traveled, but on the people encountered.
"We want to work closely with the community," he said.
The bike patrol also is present at 5Ks and other community events, Peters said.
Offering programs for the public is also part of the work of the community resources unit, including programs for senior citizens, citizen and teen academies, and Coffee With a Cop, among other things, Peters said.
He said Officer Coretha Gravely "does a great job on community outreach."
Besides Peters, Clark and Gravely, other police personnel in the community resources unit include School Resource Officers Shane McPeek and J.C. White, and Animal Control Officer E.C. Stone, according to Peters.
For more information, call Peters directly at 403-5329 or the police department at 403-5300.