Two wheeling

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Usually, the sight of a police patrol unit in the rear-view mirror evokes a few typical reactions.

People slow their cars down, they check their mirrors and they wonder if their car insurance is up to date.

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But a police officer on a bike might not be as obvious or as imposing.

And according to Selma Police Chief Jimmy Martin, that’s pretty much the point.

Just a few weeks into the re-installment of the city’s bike patrol, the officers’ lower visibility and high effectiveness have the program going in the right direction.

“So far, they’ve made several arrests and issued several citations,” Martin said. “They have the element of surprise in different areas of the city. They’re not as visual as patrol units. I’ve already received several, several calls from people thanking me and saying they’re proud to see them in the neighborhood.”

Under the direction of Officer Carlos Jones, there are currently five officers on patrol throughout the city.

Martin said he switches up their patrol beats each day so they don’t become predictable to criminal elements.

The goal of the department is to be up to eight bicycle officers by September, or possibly sooner.

After a week’s worth of intensive, highly sophisticated training, the rest of the bike unit will be ready to put rubber to the road.

“We will select from a group of officers, and provided they pass all physical qualifications, they will be put on full-time status,’ Martin said. “Officer Carlos is conducting safety briefings and talking about proper procedures and different laws the officers have to enforce as well as abide by.”

Martin went on to say the officers are used in every aspect of law enforcement – traffic, drugs, patrol, etc.

They have all the capabilities of traditional patrol units – just with less wheels and speed.

“In some areas that are not highly used for traffic, the officers will be focusing on,” Martin said. “They’ll be out this Saturday and Sunday, as a matter of fact. They don’t put the bikes up on the weekend. A lot of people overlook seeing bikes because they’re looking for cars.”