by CAITLIN MOORBY, Waikato Times, January 19, 2018
Photo: Huntly Senior Constables Winiata Leonard and Jay Ferguson are taking to the streets on bikes.
Huntly police officers are swapping four wheels for two.
Senior Constables Winiata Leonard and Jay Ferguson will be pedaling through the neighbourhood, after forming the town's first bike patrol.
The new form of policing is still in its early stages, but it's been going well, Ferguson said.
The pair will be on bike patrol throughout the remainder of summer.
"We went out for about an hour and had a good response from the community.
"Already, we've noticed they've talked to us more, but it's a bit warm."
Already the officers have had more interaction with the community being out on the bikes.
The officers have been given official police cycling shorts, shoes and helmets for health and safety.
But, the rest of their uniform remains the same, including a stab resistant vest and a yellow, police high-vis.
"I don't know whether they've been enjoying the sun too much," Sergeant John Stapleford said. "It's very hot, especially with their uniform, so we have to be conscious how long they are out there for."
Stapleford was one of the main instigators behind the bike patrol.
"The station already had the bikes, but no one had taken it further. As soon as I found that out, I got the approval to get the rest of the bike gear for the officers."
The bikes will generally be used for patrolling down the main street and the west side of Huntly, Stapleford said.
"They're a good tool for patrolling because it gives people a chance to come out of their houses and talk to police about what's going on.
"Instead of just driving past in the car, it's a way of engaging with the public, being proactive and building trust with the community."
Stapleford said the bikes allow officers to be immediately available to people.
"They can also be a deterrent for crime because the offenders can't hear the bikes coming.
"They don't have sirens, so officers might come across more crime and see more."
The station only has two bikes currently and two officers equipped to ride them.
That may be reviewed if it becomes more successful, Stapleford said.
The patrol will run for as long as the weather allows it to.
"Conditions may be too dangerous to run it during winter and the same with at night."
Stapleford didn't think the idea was new, but wasn't aware of any other bike patrols running in the Waikato.
"It's a quick and effective way to get around the neighbourhood and a great way for the officers to keep active at work."