Chief hopes method will allow more interaction with community
By Samantha McDaniel, June 17, 2104, My Journal Courier, Jacksonville IL
The Roodhouse Police Department will be patrolling the streets on bikes, as well as in cars, after it implemented a bike patrol during the weekend. The new patrol method will allow officers to move around the area quietly, as well as allow them more freedom to move around during large events.
Police Chief Kyle Robison said about six officers have shown interest in doing a bike patrol in addition to the normal patrol in cars. “The city of Roodhouse recognizes the need for extra patrol on Friday and Saturday nights, therefore officers may work a second car,” Robison said. “Now that I have officers interested in patrolling on a bicycle I will allow them priority over a second car.”
Robison said as a child he saw the Roodhouse Police Department riding patrol bicycles during the White Hall parade and he tried to bring it back to the town.
The benefits of having a bike patrol, as opposed to vehicles, is the ability for officers to approach silently, whereas a car would make more noise and headlights would alert anyone breaking the law of officers’ approach. An officer arriving on a bike also would surprise lawbreakers, because it is not something they often expect, Robison said.
Gas consumption would be cut down and would save the department money while also helping officers to stay healthy. The bikes also would help officers move around faster during events — such as parades — at which the streets are blocked or too crowded for vehicles to get though.
He said he hopes it will be easier for community members to approach an officer on a bike than it would be if they were in a vehicle. “I remember the bicycle unit getting my attention. I also felt comfortable talking to them and asking them questions,” Robison said.
Some of the disadvantages of the bike unit would be that it can only operate with the weather’s cooperation and they would not be able to perform regular traffic stops. An officer also would have to be on duty with a car to transport anyone who is arrested by the bike patrol officer.
The department has used money from the fines of drug offenders and have already purchased a Trek Bicycle from Village Cyclery in South Jacksonville. He said the program will be completely self-funded and he hopes to purchase more bikes in the future.
“I personally feel this is a great officer tool that allows them to interact with the general public,” Robinson said. “In turn, we may get information that solves other crimes or even prevent those crimes from occurring.”