By Justin Schecker, NBC CT, August 7, 2017
Watertown CT – Some Watertown police officers will now be patrolling on two wheels instead of squad cars.
The bike patrol unit is making a comeback after nearly 20 years thanks to a grant from the Thomaston Savings Bank.
"I ride every single week for part of staying in shape," Watertown Police Corporal David McDonnell told NBC Connecticut.
Now, riding one of the department’s new mountain bikes with 29-inch tires is part of McDonnell's job with the Watertown Police Department.
“Being in a police car really closes you off from the community," McDonnell said. "Being up close and person, being able to hop off it, visit with business owners, meet with the public is just, it brings a whole new dimension to police work."
Three outfitted officers will rotate riding the two bikes the department purchased with the grant money, patrol commander Lt. Tim Gavallas said.
"When manpower allows, they’ll be out on the bicycles," Gavallas said. "They’ll be covering the main streets, plazas our parks, greenways."
Watertown residents told NBC Connecticut they are looking forward to seeing the bike officers on patrols in areas like Main Street.
"I think the more exposure they have and the more interaction there is between them and the citizens is only good, only good can come of it," Tammy from Watertown said.
There are benefits to the bike program beyond just building even better community relations, Gavallas said.
"They can get in places where a car can’t," Gavallas said. "They’re very stealthy, too."
In the bikes’ tail bag, officers will carry basic first aid, bike supplies and ticket books.