Perryville Police Department adds bike patrols
— Just in time for school to start up again, the town’s police have added bicycle patrols to their skills.
Detective Dale Hoffman and Ofc. Richard Hufstutler are the first to ride the town on two wheels and have the full support of the mayor and commissioners, Chief Allen Miller said.
The town made sure the police department got the best possible equipment, including sturdy bikes and brightly-colored, moisturewicking shirts with reflective lettering, he said.
“We want them to be highly visible for the public and for their safety,” the chief said Thursday. “Officer safety is No. 1. That’s why we bought the best equipment.”
These patrols will be seen on a regular basis in the morning and afternoon when students at Perryville elementary and middle schools and Good Shepherd School will be on the sidewalks.
While on bikes, the officers will carry the same gun, body camera, radio and other equipment as their vehicular counterparts. Officers will ride in pairs with a car to back them up.
“These officers can cover a whole lot more ground than a foot patrol,” the chief said, adding that may have helped the elected body
approve the plan.
Miller said he was able to shave $2,000 in fuel cost from his operating budget.
“Riding a bike costs nothing but a bottle of cold water to put these guys on patrol,” he said.
Miller said Ofc. Austin Gutridge will also be on bicycle patrol. He joined the department last week.
“We were looking for someone who shows the initiative to ride. They have to be capable and we have to get them qualified,” he said.
All three will take the first avail- able training course.
On their first day patrolling side by side, Huffstutler said that in spite of the heat he was enjoying the ride.
“I don’t ride consistently, but I’ve grown up on them,” he said.
Hoffman on the other hand, rode bike patrol with his former agency in Pennsylvania.
“I did it for two and a half years,” Hoffman said, adding that was 10 years ago.
The chief plans to tap into that experience.
Miller said the bike patrols have several advantages, not the least of which is a police officer on a bicycle is more approachable than one in a patrol car. And because there are a lot of young bicyclists in Perryville he figures it will be a public safety campaign on wheels.
“Maybe when the kids see the officer wearing his helmet they’ll think, ‘Maybe I’ll wear my helmet too,’” Miller said.
Perhaps adults will get interested as well, he added.
“We can encourage people to ride to go to the store and run errands,” Miller said.
From a law enforcement perspective Miller said an officer on a bicycle can handle crowd control with less risk than a car.
“And you can actually sneak up on a person if you have to,” he said, since bikes make little noise. Bicycles can also traverse alleys and other tight places in Perryville.
Miller has already used the patrol in the park for last Friday’s Community Campout. He expects to do likewise for other events.
“Halloween is a busy time. A lot of traffic and a lot of pedestrian traffic,” the chief said. “These patrols will be excellent.”
Ofc. Richard Huffstutler and Det. Dale Hoffman ride together along Richmond Street in Perryville Thursday. Perryville Police have begun bicycle patrols in town, and will be especially visible once school begins Aug. 29.