APD's stealthy steel steeds ready for summer thanks to donation
Downtown Alexandria will be transformed into a pedestrian paradise in the next few years through the city's "complete street" construction plan. The plan, scheduled to begin in 2014, includes adding bicycle paths along Broadway and now the Alexandria Police Department (APD) will be better equipped to patrol the new avenues.
Two Fuji police patrol bicycles have been added to the APD transportation squadron, thanks to a donation of approximately $2,500 from Active Living Douglas County (ALDC) and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). The bikes were purchased from Bike and Fitness Company in Alexandria.
"It's wonderful that our community partners have come together for the cause of keeping our city safe," said Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels.
Jessica Peterson, Douglas County Public Health educator with ALDC, said the mission of the ALDC and SHIP is to create a healthy community, which includes putting more people on bicycles.
"Having a law enforcement presence on bicycles sets a great example for our community," Peterson said.
Alexandria Police Sergeant Kevin Guenther said the department had two patrol bikes, but one was at least 12 years old. Wyffels said that while the old bikes weren't completely worn-out, the new bikes will ensure officers are safe and can rely on their rides. The Fuji bikes are designed for police work and include flashing lights.
"Fujis are made for this duty," Wyffels said. "It's a more durable bike."
Generally, two officers volunteer for bicycle patrol during the summer months. Guenther and Officer James Ross frequently team up for bike patrol duty.
Wyffels referred to bike patrol officers as being in "stealth mode." Day or night, they are able to see and hear things that may be less apparent if they're not out in the elements. Burglaries and car break-ins are two instances where bike patrol is particularly helpful.
"Just an officer's presence among a crowd is a crime deterrent. It makes people second guess bad decisions," Wyffels said.
Bike patrol officers work with the APD squad patrol to monitor the city. Officers control juvenile loitering, check on businesses after hours, perform crowd control and conduct investigations while on bike duty.
APD bike patrol officers have also dedicated their time to help youth develop safe bicycling habits since 1996.
ABOUT THE DONORS
ALDC is a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota funded community organization interested in promoting physical activity in Douglas County. SHIP is a statewide program funded by the Minnesota Department of Health that is creating healthier communities by encouraging healthy nutrition, physical activity and the elimination of tobacco use.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.