by Erin Sullivan, Four States Home Page, June 28, 2018
A Southeast Kansas police department is revitalizing an essential part of their force.
Pittsburg has had bike cops since the 90's but without much consistency. Now their bicycle bound officers mean business. With the expansion of the downtown area and more foot traffic, this overhaul is more necessary than ever.
These officers are swapping seat belts for helmets. The department has appointed six officers for its revamped bicycle patrol unit. Public safety sales taxes were used to pay for six new bikes, uniforms and training, all in hopes to expand their police presence beyond the streets.
“The patrol cars are basically bound to the streets. The bikes can skip from the road to the sidewalk to the yard to the trail to the creekbed to wherever they pretty much need to be,” says Sgt. Travis Bowman.
Bikes provide different tactical advantages for the department. At night, targeting crime that may otherwise go unseen.
"We're not going to be very lit up unless we have to be, we're going to be sneaking around. The criminal element is already doing that. They're already sneaking around, lurking in the shadows and doing that nature. And we're kind of hitting that head on,” says Sgt. Travis Bowman.
"With a guy on a bike I can kind of see that, because the problem out here is there's a lot of places where people expects the cops in a car,” says Noah Braun.
And during the day, a totally different approach.
"We're pretty easily seen. We're looking to get engaged with the community, meet the people, kind of see what's going on and have people welcome our unit with open arms,” says Sgt. Travis Bowman.
Bike cops are great for "people-heavy" situations like parades, festivals, or even just the nightlife in Pittsburg's expanding downtown.
"Especially with the Block 22 being so youth oriented, especially with the college and everything putting a lot of you know influence behind it, I would probably think that's a good idea. Because you know it's easier access and at the end of the day there's a more personable factor about it,” says Noah Braun.