5/28/2014 7:51:00 AM Community policing making a come-back, bike patrol on track
File Photo/Cheryl Hartz
Prescott Valley Police bicycle patrol officer Jason Lohman rides with a young participant during a 2012 Bike Rodeo at the Civic Center.
History of PV Bike Team
Community-Oriented Policing took off in the summer of 1997, in Prescott Valley, when representatives from the International City Managers Association sponsored a seminar in California, inviting town officials to attend.
By the fall of 1997, an ICMA team arrived in Prescott Valley to assist police officials in implementing the new community-based policing philosophy. The town's first bicycle team began shortly thereafter with Officers Scott Stebbins and Brandon Bonney as its first bike patrol officers.
The Bike Team continued to promote positive, police/student interaction within the community. Bike officers ate lunch with elementary school students.
The Bike Team organized a neighborhood "Team Up to Clean Up" drive in tandem with the town-wide campaign and hundreds of pounds of trash was removed off of the streets and properties in the Unit Five area.
The Bike Team promoted youth safety and education by working with schools and civic groups, and by serving on the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce Youth and Education Committee.
The Bike Team sponsored Bicycle Safety Rodeos and taught hundreds of kids bicycle maintenance and the rules of the road. Officers handed out free helmets to youths who could not afford them.
The department's bike patrol unit marks one example that soon will see reinstatement and while it's not a full-time service yet, the department will deploy it as needed.
The patrol ran from 1997 to 1998 and the response by citizens was positive, according to PVPD Sgt. Brandon Bonney, who also served as one of the first bike officers in the town alongside Sgt. Scott Stebbins.
"People would ask us if they could fill our water bottles, or if we needed anything. The approachability is just unrivaled by any other position," Bonney said.
He mentioned also that some neighborhood residents didn't always like the squad cars near their homes but didn't mind the bikes.
"It has a lot of benefits to it if deployed under the right circumstances, it's an incredible tool," Bonney said.
The bikes are made for law enforcement, with specific weight ratios and braking systems equipped with a lighting system for visibility. "They have to be really sturdy, they get beaten up quite a bit, when we have to dump the bike and run," Bonney said.
One great feature about the bikes is that they enable the officers to move with stealth. Boney recalled he once rode up on a suspect that was sitting in his car smoking marijuana.
"We actually rode up and looked over his shoulder for a few seconds before he saw us," Bonney said.
"It's a great testament on how versatile we can be, even for riding up and down parade routes and places where cars can't access."
When the bike unit went away and with the economic downturn, the department saw other community-based services disappear, during which time staff struggled just to man the streets.
"The support services side had to say no to the programs we felt strongly about. We just did not have the manpower to support some of the educational commitments within the community," Bonney said, noting that one of those programs included D.A.R.E., as the school district also lost its funding for that program.
In addition, The School Resource Program saw a reduction from three to one officer at one point. Even that resource grant was eventually eliminated, Bonney said.
"Now, we're working towards getting those back. Staff also is working to revitalize the popular Block Watch program and get back to the core, community-based policing principles that we used to do," Bonney said.