Photo: Southern Chester County Regional Police officers Joseph Greenwaldt, Michael King and Ray Sullivan prepare to patrol the streets of West Grove during the Memorial Day parade. Chris Barber — Digital First Media
By Chris Barber, Century Media, June 5, 2017
WEST GROVE PA >> When the Southern Chester County Regional Police held their public debut in April with an awards ceremony, Chief Gerald Simpson told the audience he hoped there would be a bicycle contingent in the future.
It didn’t take long.
For those who were spectators at the West Grove Memorial Day Parade last week, they saw just how soon that “future” came.
Three officers in sharp new athletic uniforms were riding brand striking, highly accessorized police bikes and gaining the admiration of most of the folks who were there.
“We move with efficiency here,” Simpson said on Thursday.
The bikes, uniforms and training came thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Chester County District Attorney’s office, of which about $7,000 of that went for the bicycle project.
Simpson said they didn’t “go cheap” on the bikes, which looked as sturdy as alpha panthers right out of the jungle and appeared to be equipped with sirens, radios and blinking lights, among other things.
Six members of the department took the required training early in May, and that included a fitness regimen, he said.
Although there were no age or fitness requirement, he said, there were those on the force who felt the younger ones were better suited, and they deferred.
Inasmuch as the main cruising location for the bike police is West Grove, it became clear as they rode the steep hill on Prospect Avenue for the parade that the certified members had to be pretty fit. Afterward parade, all three agreed that it had been a tough climb, but they made it.
Simpson said West Grove is not the only location for the bicycle officers, because they will be covering many events throughout the New Garden-West Grove area including the balloon festival and the air show as well as cruising other heavily populated areas in the district.
The officers don’t have to ride their bikes to the new locations. The bicycles will be taken to the different events by way of a rack on the back of one of the police vehicles and then mounted by the officers upon their arrival.
Deputy Chief Michael King, who is one of the bicycle officers, said that even on the first day they were well received by the public.
Simpson agreed, saying having a police presence on bicycles riding around and providing protection breaks down the social barriers between the police and the public.
Simpson said the first 100 days of the merging of the New Garden and West Grove police departments has been very successful. He advised the public to read the 33-page report on the start-up on the New Garden Township website.