By Chris Roark, Star Local Media, August 1, 2014 11:51 am,
Brian Maschino/staff photo: Flower Mound police officers Johnson, White, Rachal and Strickland are shown with the department’s new bicycles, along with David Sebastian of Scottish Rite Hospital.
Three area companies and organizations helped the Flower Mound Police Department re-implement its bicycle patrol program with donations.
Wednesday, the department hosted a ceremony to thank them.
Members of the community joined the police department during a dedication event in which Market Street, Scottish Rite Hospital and the Flower Mound Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association were recognized for their efforts in bringing the bicycle program back to the town.
Scottish Rite and Market Street each donated $2,650, which was enough to purchase four bikes.
The police academy alumni association donated $1,786, which went toward one bike and helmets.
Market Street officials said the cooperation was a good way to help become part of the Flower Mound community since the local store just recently opened.
“There was a need to get this program going, and we thought this would be a good fit,” said Kurt McMillan, Market Street Dallas-Fort Worth regional vice president. “We felt like this was the right thing to do. This program will bridge the gap between the community and the police force.”
Sonny Tull, general secretary for Fort Worth Scottish Rite, said the organization donates money to a variety of causes, and helping police departments across the state purchase bicycles has always been a popular choice.
“It’s an essential part of a police department,” Tull said. “It allows the officers to stop and talk to you. We see a lot of that around here in downtown Fort Worth. There’s just a need for it.”
Flower Mound had a bicycle patrol program several years ago, but with changing beats meant a change in focus.
A new emphasis on the program has yielded immediate results, said Assistant Police Chief Wendell Mitchell.
“There were about 20,000 people at Independence Fest this year, and that’s a large group of people,” Mitchell said. “We can patrol that on foot or in a golf cart, but a bicycle is more effective.”
Mitchell said the bike patrol came into play in June when police were looking for the missing bicyclist, who was lost in the trail system.
He added that bike patrol officers have already been sent out to the trails to get familiar with the area.
“It’s a lot different going to a trail and going through a trail,” Mitchell said. “That’s what this is designed for.”
For now, Flower Mound PD has five bicycles and five officers trained to use them. Mitchell said the plan is to expand the number of officers who are trained to as much as 12.
“You can never replace a patrol car, but this is a supplement to it,” Mitchell said.