Per­ryville Po­lice Depart­ment adds bike pa­trols

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

PER­RYVILLE

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.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

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.

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