After a hiatus, the Champlin Police Bike Patrol is back in action. In the early 1990s, mountain bikes became a popular and effective method of police patrolling. Bikes allowed officers to interact more closely with people, to get places where squad cars can’t go, and to move quietly and quickly through neighborhoods. The Champlin Police Department joined in that effort for a time. However, the city’s bike patrol
disappeared several years ago as budgets became tighter. While the police found bike patrolling an effective tool, it was one of the extras that were eliminated as the department focused on basic services in cost-cutting times, According to Champlin Police Chief Dave Kolb who spent some of his time earlier in his career on bike patrol in Brooklyn Park.
“While budgets remain tight, the Champlin community has stepped forward to help put this effective extra back in the police toolbox,” Kolb said.
Thanks to funding support from the community, Champlin Police are now able to reinstate the bike patrol program. The Champlin Crime Prevention Fund, Trailhead Cycling and Fitness, Champlin Target and the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce have contributed equipment, services, and training to get the program started again. According to Officer Chris Larabee, who oversees the bike patrol program, the department still had the bikes from their earlier bike patrol days. They have been tuned up and are still in good condition. This also contributed to the department’s ability to reinstate the program.
On a limited basis, officers will be pulled from regular patrol, investigations and traffic enforcement and onto bike-duty. During the day time they will be visiting parks and patrolling business areas. At night they will be enforcing curfew and addressing crimes such as theft or vandalism. At the end of the summer the program will be evaluated for effectiveness. According to Kolb, it may return as a regular service of the Champlin Police Department if resources allow and it is proven effective.
Recently, bike officers received training from Andrew Sullivan of Trailhead Cycling and Fitness, a Champlin business. Sullivan is a professionally sponsored bike racer. The training included riding over difficult terrain and basic maintenance. Trailhead has also donated equipment and service to the bike program.
“The bike patrol would not be a reality without the support of our community. Bike patrol gives us a chance to have more non-enforcement related contact with our residents,” Kolb said.
“It also allows us to address some types of crime much more effectively.”
Contact Mindy Mateuszczyk at [email protected]