AUSTIN (KXAN) - Texas state troopers are finding a new way to fight crime:Patrolling on bikes instead of in cars.
They now have a new perspective on crime, and a new way to fightit.
"You are there and able to see more. You obviously are a lotmore quiet and not as obvious," said Texas Department of PublicSafety Sgt. Gabe Huber.
"It's kind of like the difference between an old television andan HD," says Eric Brackelsberg, DPS bike patrolman. "Yourperspective is so much more vivid. It's a whole new way ofpatrolling."
In October 2009, DPS officials decided to take six officers outof their patrol cars to send them cycling, patrolling the Capitolcomplex on bikes. In less than a year the program is showinghuge success. There are now 13 officers cycling the complex andmore importantly, they're presence and crime fighting isworking.
""It's approximately a reduction of 50% of the crime, and themajority of crimes is crimes against property, criminal mischief,burglary to vehicles," said patrol and security operations captainLaurencio Saenz.
From the time it takes an officer to walk to his patrol car,crank it up and arrive to a scene, a bike officer is likely alreadythere. When the Capitol is in emergency mode on lockdown, cementbarricades are activated blocking any cars from entering or exitingthe Capitol complex. On a bike, officers don't have to wait; theycan bypass the barricades, take the sidewalks, ride betweenbuildings arriving to a scene in just seconds. In a patrol car morethan just a barricade can stand in the way.
"With the number of one way streets, the units [patrol cars]tend to get caught up in some of that traffic, whereas our bikepatrol units are not confined to the streets alone," said Sgt. GabeHuber.
"I was five or ten seconds behind him. We were able to beat allthe units over there because of the circumstances," said DPS bikepatrolman Eric Brackelsberg.
The bike patrolman have the same jurisdiction as DPS' patrolcars. They can issue tickets, make arrests, and assist EMS withminor and more serious medical calls. Cycling also allows Troopersto see and hear more and they are more accessible to the Capitolemployees and its visitors.
"You could be riding by and somebody can holler at you, hey Ineed some help and you're in a car, you have your window up or evenjust your engine noise of your own vehicle, you might not hear thatperson," said Eric Brakelsberg.
Riding a bike has proved to be more cost-effective too. Officerssay the expense of a patrol car, outfitted with computer and allthe equipment officers need is about $30,000. That doesn't includeregular maintenance and gas. Putting an officer on a bike, issignificantly less. Overall, Troopers say doing more with less iskeeping the public safe, cutting down on crime and response time.Troopers patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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