By Sam Pimper Fremont Tribune, September 20, 2017
For several years, the Wishing Wheels program has served as a way for children with limited financial needs in Fremont to receive a new bicycle during the holiday season.
Dozens of bikes have been given to the Masonic Eastern-Star Home for Children, the Salvation Army, Heartland Family Services Jefferson Home and Care Corps Family Services.
Every year, tax-deductible donations are made to the Fremont Area Community Foundation and the proceeds – generally around $10,000 – are allocated for the purchasing of bicycles.
And while Wishing Wheels predominant focus is serving youth in need, on Wednesday, the Fremont Police Department was the recipient of a generous gift enabling its five officers who frequently patrol areas on a bicycle to maneuver around more efficiently and safely.
“This year, the Fremont Police Department reached out to us to see if we could assist them with purchasing a bike rack for their cruisers for those officers who are on bikes during the summer time patrolling the downtown areas, as well as some protective lighting so that they can be seen and so that they can see,” said Dave Mitchell, local attorney and one of the people heavily involved in the Wishing Wheels program.
A removable bike rack capable of holding two bicycles was purchased, along with five light kits.
“We recognize how important their service is to the community and we think the bicycle patrol is a great idea,” Mitchell said. “The police also feel like it’s a great tool for law enforcement and safety purposes.”
The FPD has five bikes on patrol, and the expense of the bike rack and light kits was approximately $650, said Bill Spagnotti, owner Bad Dog Bikes, LLC, where several of the Wishing Wheels bicycles are purchased.
Spagnotti said that both the bike rack and light kits are useful tools for law enforcement.
“With this rack two officers can have their bikes on there, and then they can get out of their vehicle and patrol on the bikes together,” he said. “And these are great light kits, it’s a 700-combo kit and the taillight is 100 lumens and that can be seen during the daylight hours from 2 miles away. The headlight also has the same functionality and will serve them well during the night hours.”
Sgt. John Brady of the FPD, one of the members of the force who patrols on a bicycle at times, said that the new bike rack will pay dividends by easily attaching to the department’s new SUV cruisers.
“Our old racks go on the top of a trunk and we have been having a lot of issues with those damaging cruisers in the past, and it makes officers have to separate, and this lets us put two officers together and lets them be in one vehicle and move to wherever they need to be.”
Brady said that when officers join the FPD, there is a two-year-long probationary period served before they are eligible to patrol on a bicycle. Many are eager to have the opportunity once it becomes available.
“It’s a good way to get in exercise while at work, and it’s also a great way for us to connect with citizens,” Brady said. “We can stop and talk with them easier; it’s a lot less intrusive for us to pull up on our bicycles rather than in our cruisers.”