This past weekend saw the delivery of 25 specially-equipped bicycles to the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.
Five of the new Redline mountain bikes were distributed to each of the five SCMPD precincts to be used by Crime Suppression Unit officers in patrolling their areas.
"Each precinct increased the number of officers certified to patrol on bicycles after a two-day training session by an instructor from the International Police Mountain Bike Association," says a spokesman. "The two-wheelers will be used by CSU officers on routine patrol and in specific operations."
Police say some of the bicycles "already proved their worth last weekend in the Central Precinct when officers on bicycles discovered three vehicles that had been entered before their owners even realized it."
"Using bicycles allows officers to patrol with a 360-degree line of sight and the opportunity to interact better with the residents they serve," says Chief Willie Lovett. "It is much easier to approach residents – and for residents to approach officers – on bicycles than in a patrol car. And in certain situations they could shorten response times. While they are not optimum for all situations, they can make a tremendous difference in the appropriate situations."
The bikes were purchased from Perry Rubber Bike Shop on Bull Street for $31,485. Each bike includes a luggage rack, lights, carry bags, repair kits, helmets and a maintenance contract for the first year of operation. They replace the departments aging fleet of patrol bikes that were purchased in 1992.
Central Precinct CSU Sgt. Sean Wilson said the use of bikes is as much an enhancement of the relationship with the community as it is a crime-fighting tool.
"Residents seem to notice us more on bicycles ... probably because we present a different appearance ... and some stop and talk to us," he said.
• Three people were transported for treatment of injuries after a car ran into the rear of a tractor-trailer rig on Interstate 95 late on a Tuesday night last week.
Jonika Arthur, 18, of Cocoa, FL., and Joshua Studstill, 19, of Merritt Island, FL, were transported to Memorial University Medical Center after the 11:30 p.m. crash just north of Exit 94 (GA 204) near mile marker 96. She was listed in critical condition and he was listed as stable.
Gregory Pinkney Hope, 52, of Savannah, driver of the tractor-trailer also was transported for treatment after complaining of injuries.
Both vehicles were traveling north in the northbound lanes when a Toyota Corolla driven by Studstill collided with the trailer. Arthur was a passenger in the Toyota. Northbound traffic was diverted at the GA 204 exit (94) to Ogeechee Road for several hours.
• The first Intoxilyzer 9000 breath alcohol tester was delivered to the SCMPD Traffic Unit through an $8,000 grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
Metro police currently use seven earlier versions of the equipment to perform breath alcohol level testing, "but the technology of those machines cannot meet evolving legal demands. And, replacement parts for the older machines have become an issue. Consequently, use of the elder machines will cease to be legal in 2016," the department says.
Besides conforming to evolving legal requirements, the 9000 offers innovations including the ability to perform its own calibration checks, download test information to a centralized server and print them on standard printers. Updating software can be performed from a centralized server, rather than replacing parts of the operating CPU. And the 9000 will be easier for officers to use.
Metro Police continue to work on replacing the other machines, but SCMPD's membership in the Southeastern Traffic Enforcement Network qualified it to apply for the governor's grant for the first one. The Traffic Unit expects to have the new unit online Oct. 1.