To see and to be seen
“Our bikes are sturdy but old,” says police officer Jim Demsko, who rides a bike on daily basis through the streets of Reading. The city has almost 90 thousand citizens. Jim’s sure, that when people see his bike in the area, they know the police are somewhere around. When on bike patrol they ride all day, all weather, and any time.
Jim thinks, that people are used to looking for police cars when committing crimes. Even though policemen have bright yellow shirts and helmets – no one seems to notice them. They have ridden up and suddenly been in the middle of a drugs deal, solicitation and physical assaults.
Bicycle makes you approachable
Once they cycled past a male in an alley and engaged in some conversation. It was just a small talk but Jim always tries to have a interaction with everyone. About two weeks later it was discovered this male had committed two murders in another area. “We were able to arrest him pretty much only because of that small little chat I had with him in the quiet alley. Which never would have been possible without being on a bike.” Jim explained.
A cop on a bike on the side walk, or behind a house, is very approachable. Not being in a car – which is a barrier between citizens and the police – is a huge advantage when trying to talk to people. Citizens do not want to be seen leaning into a cop car chatting. Police cyclists daily mileage is varied. Jim and his crew do between 15 to 30 miles on every shift.
Bulletproof vest is a like hug from a bear
The biggest thing with the equipment is the bulletproof vest. It wraps around the bodies of policemen at work and must be securely fastened to prevent it from moving. This makes it very hard to expand the lungs.
On one photo, you can see Jim riding a street ramp with his bike. He makes a stop in the park once or twice a week. This activity has helped to make better relationships between officers and the kids.
Nothing crazy but some jumps in all the equipment really has got the kids going. Jim’s never really thought much of it until someone outside was like “wow that is great, this 40 year old cop on a 20 year old bike like the bike kids!”
Did you like our insight into the world of policemen on bikes? Maybe you will also like our story about an engineer cycling on a South pole!