By Elizabeth Dinan, Seacoastonline.com, June 5, 2018
PORTSMOUTH -- Police officers will be patrolling downtown on bicycles this year, including on the midnight shift, said Police Chief Robert Merner.
The chief’s announcement came during a recent Police Commission meeting when Commissioner Arthur Hilson said he received a request from a resident asking for less officers in SUVs downtown and more of them on bicycles. In response, Merner said, he instructed one of his command staff to contact the Boston Police Department, which has a tactical bicycle squad, and arranged for two officers to train with that squad.
Merner said he’s sending two Portsmouth officers for the training, which will be provided at no cost to Portsmouth. He said officers Dick Scott and Todd Goodwin will take the Boston training, obtain certification, then share what they learned with the rest of the Portsmouth Police Department.
“I love having the bikes downtown,” Merner said. “I think it will make a big difference.”
The police chief said he plans to have officers on bicycles, “days, evenings and midnights” and they can “cover a lot of ground on bicycles.”
“The visibility is great, so we’re on that,” he said. “This will happen within the next couple of weeks.”
Two years ago, former chief David Mara renewed the bicycle-patrol program for the summer of 2016, but it fizzled out last summer.
According to the International Police Mountain Bike Association, the earliest use of bicycles by patrolling police officers was in 1869.