By Dawn White, WHEG News, November 11, 2013
FREDERICK, Md. - The Frederick City Police Department developed a squad of officers to patrol the downtown area mainly on Segways, bicycles and on foot last year.
WHAG's Dawn White found out if police and business owners think the unit has been effective, and what they say it's done for the streets of downtown Frederick.
It's a familiar sight for many people in Frederick seeing the directed patrol unit who keep an eye out for crime, and stay connected with the community.
"It was founded to be a problem solving unit. Our primary focus is in the downtown area," said Lt. Jason Keckler, with the Frederick City Police Department.
Police formed the unit in June of 2012 to address quality of life issues, such as loitering or the presence of synthetic marijuana. Police say the program has been a success.
"The directed patrol unit has been very effective addressing crime in the downtown area by having a specific focus and a systematic approach to how we do things," Keckler said. "It makes the community know we're going to be there to handle the issues."
"Its good community policing because you get to interact and the best beat officers know the people in their beats, so they're getting to know the business owners. They're getting to know the citizens, the residents and they're also getting to know the problem people in the area," said Chief Thomas Ledwell, with the Frederick City Police Department.
According to police, arrests in the downtown area went up by about 30 percent after the unit was put into place, but they say that's a good thing.
"It's more proactive activity," Ledwell said. "Rather than us responding after the fact to reported crimes and nuisance issues down there, I think we're being proactive. We've been on the scene of many things and I think based on that, we've made more arrests."
The directed patrol unit makes decisions on where to be based on data and calls for service.
"With this unit we're directly focused on pulling data on a daily basis," Keckler said. "Our supervisor will pull all the calls for service that happened, whether it is over the weekend or the day before."
Four officers and a corporal make up the directed patrol unit. They typically work on foot, bicycles or on Segways, and it's made a big impact in the community."
Matthew Lerner owns the Frederick Coin Exchange and says the directed patrol unit has helped him and his customers feel more secure.
"I really appreciate the increase police patrols in downtown Frederick," Lerner said. "A lot of them come into our shop and check in on a daily basis. It gives our customers confidence that Frederick is a great place to come and shop."
Those at Pitcrew have a similar reaction to the unit saying it keeps them and their money safe. "It's 100 percent positive. It's truly what in my mind policing should be. It's as much preventative maintenance as it is reactive maintenance. They do a really good job of continually making sure things are going well," said Tim Reardon, co-owner of Pitcrew.
The group of officers can be more places sooner thanks to the mobility of their bicycles and Segways, and they're making more arrests so business owners feel comfortable keeping their shops downtown.
"It's nice that being such a small downtown area that if you call them, they'll be here in a short amount of time," Lerner said.
Community policing is a very important part of the unit. They spend much of their time talking to residents, visitors and businesses in the downtown area.
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