Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 06:16 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Upcounty police recommend patrols year-round
by Joe Beck | Staff Writer
Bicycle patrols in Germantown and Gaithersburg shopping areas succeeded well enough during the summer that police leadership in one of the communities — Germantown — would like to expand them year around.
Sgt. Kent Smith, who supervised the 5th District patrols in Germantown's Town Center, said they should be expanded if the money becomes available to do so. Smith offered his proposal in a report he submitted Sept. 8 to Capt. Thomas Didone, 5th District commander.
"I think that it would be advantageous to our crime fighting efforts because there's so much more you can see and do," Smith said last week.
Didone was not available for comment.
Smith said police noticed fewer complaints from merchants and adults about disorderly conduct by teenagers, one of the main reasons the bike patrols were established.
Bike police in Germantown issued 84 traffic citations, 22 parking citations and averaged 1.5 arrests per week during the eight week patrols that began in June and ended in mid-August, according to Smith's report. The report also stated that bike officers were the primary respondents on 100 calls and served as back ups on 125 more.
The patrols were deployed from 6 a.m. until sundown. A squad car took over until 2 a.m. because riding bicycles in traffic after dark was deemed too hazardous, Smith said.
Smith said arrests ranged from thefts to possession of drugs with intent to distribute. Skateboarders were also a target of the patrols, although no arrests were made, Smith said.
Smith said bike patrols also proved helpful in fostering more communication between police and the community.
"The experience is that people feel more free to approach you so a lot more people come up and talk to you and say ‘hello,''' Smith said.
In Gaithersburg, city police spokesman Sgt. Rudy Wagner said police recorded a total of 75 citations for minor offenses and five arrests in the Olde Towne shopping area over the summer. The patrols were made up of city and 6th District county police using foot patrols, six bicycles and four Segways.
"I thought I got really positive feedback from the public, especially on the Segways," Wagner said. "I really helps with the interaction with pedestrians and merchants. It's been very popular."
Information on patrols assigned to the Kentlands was unavailable, Wagner said.
Gaithersburg deploys the patrols at times when the weather permits, but they follow no set schedule, he said.