By Khai Hoang, Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald, May 18, 2017
Photo by Cheryl Wingfield. Roanoke Rapids Police Chief Chuck Hasty, left, and Deputy Chief Andy Jackson meet with Clara Hearne Pre-K School students during their bicycle patrol last week. The bicycle patrol seeks to get in touch with people and start conversations instead of just riding by in cars. It began May 1.
Instead of a black or silver police car cruising down the road, some people instead may see and meet officers conducting patrols on bicycles.
This initiative began May 1 and is an effort to get officers in touch with people and talk to them rather than just riding by in cars, said Roanoke Rapids Police Chief Chuck Hasty.
“And the bikes make you closer to the people and able to have that conversation,” Hasty said.
He said the idea to try something different began last budget season. Since then, the department has purchased three bicycles.
Hasty and Deputy Chief Andy Jackson ride two of the bikes when patrolling, and the third is a spare.
The idea, however, isn’t new to the police department.
“Roanoke Rapids used to have a bike patrol, but it kind of fell off to the wayside,” Hasty said.
Eventually other officers in different shifts will ride the bikes, but there probably won’t be an increase in the number of bikes.
“If you expand it, you’re going to take everybody out of the cars, and that can’t happen,” Hasty said, laughing.
So far, community members have enjoyed seeing the two pedaling, Hasty said. Last week, Jackson and the chief rode by Clara Hearne Pre-K School.
“And they want to ride the bikes with us, and also it gives us a chance to give some education about wearing helmets, why you wear it riding your bike, bike safety and stuff like that,” the chief said.
Larry Catalano, director of Clara Hearne Pre-K School, praised the police department’s bicycle program. Catalano said the children were excited when Hasty and Jackson came by, adding it was impressive to the children that the chief himself was there.
“I think it’s fantastic to build a relationship with the community and the police,” Catalano said. “Just being that visible.”