Monday, May 20, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Independence reserve police officer Nic Rumsey talks with Danika Howe, her daughter Keycia, 4, and Mario Rosales, all of Salem, at Riverveiw Park Friday.
July 10, 2012
INDEPENDENCE -- Independence Police reserve officer Eric Solberg pedaled to the top of the Riverview Park Amphitheater early on Thursday evening. He had only been 20 minutes into bike patrol duty when he was flagged down by a vendor.
Two guys on longboards were arguing with a Western Days security guard about rolling through the colonnade, despite a signed "no bikes, no skateboards" policy.
Solberg explained the prohibition. They leave, eventually, grumbling about "a rookie" on a bike. Solberg shrugged.
"That's fine," he said of the dismissive attitude. "If you don't expect it, you'll be surprised when it happens."
It's typical for most law enforcement agencies to employ officers on bikes during special events. Independence has expanded that tool this summer.
Because of a larger-than-normal pool of volunteers, the department has a dedicated bike patrol that started in June and will last a day or two every week until September.
One or two officers at a time on bicycles will roll through downtown during music and movie events at the amphitheater, and cruise through neighborhoods throughout the city.
Nic Rumsey, a second-year reserve, put in four days in the saddle last week, including a 12-hour shift on Saturday.
"I've enjoyed it," Rumsey said. "You're going slow enough that people can stop and talk to you."
Prior to this year, bikes have been used almost exclusively for special events, said Sgt. Rick Igou. Arrests are rare and there haven't been any by officers on bikes so far in 2012. Citations are also infrequent, Igou said.
Then again, "enforcement isn't the main thing, it's more discouraging bad behavior out there by being present," he said. "Or providing education, if they see a kid riding a bike or skateboard without a helmet."
Igou said he has about eight volunteers who've offered to patrol by bike this summer. Solberg, a security officer at Willamette University, has been a reserve for five years and done bike patrol for four of them.
"It's community policing," he said.
Bike units will be used for special projects, such as property code enforcement or in residential areas where speeding is an issue, Igou said.
Rumsey, 22, said he starts his route downtown and then tries to hit neighborhoods he hasn't ridden through in a while. He might log between 10 to 20 miles on longer days. Bike patrol is a speedier version of a neighborhood foot post, he said.
"I've gone riding by houses, and people will yell out `Hold on!'" Rumsey said. "They'll stop me to talk about how somebody got into their car, or whatever problem they're having."
"They're things they might not think are important enough to call us about, but they are," he continued. "You learn what areas of town need more attention."