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Archive for Friday, July 5, 1991

CARS, MOUNTAIN BIKES, FOOT BEATS BOOST LOCAL POLICE PATROL OPTIONS

July 5, 1991

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If the Lawrence Police Department makes a movie this summer, it could be called ``Bikes, Feet and Automobiles."

Of course that would fall in line with the rest of the summer movie sequels. But police officials say the department has a very real and good plan to put its enlarged police force to work: the creation and addition of bike, foot and car patrols.

Although the half-cent sales tax increase approved in 1990 by Lawrence voters won't raise enough money to finance a major motion picture, one department official said that the additional funds allowed the department to take preventative measures that will ensure public safety.

"One of the things the chief (Police Chief Ron Olin) wanted to do is be proactive rather than reactive," said Sgt. Kevin Harmon of the Lawrence Police Department.

TAXPAYERS already can see their contributions at work. After receiving bids from several area dealerships, the department bought 14 Chevrolet Caprices from Wichita's Don Hatten Chevrolet Inc.

Patrolman Ernie Gwin said the last time the department purchased cars was in 1989. With the enlarged police force this year, he said, the department added cars to its fleet to accommodate the numbers. The department traded in 10 of its 13 original fleet vehicles.

"If you've got more people on the streets, you've got to have some place to put them," he said.

If all 12 students in the police academy graduate in August, the number of graduates will total 37 this year. According to Gwin, that's quite a contrast to the average five or six cadets who have graduated each year. So recent and potential graduates will have the opportunity to choose how they want to conduct their beat.

In addition to slick new patrol cars, patrol officers will be walking their beats as well. And if that isn't enough, officers will be on stylish, studentesque mountain bikes.

GWIN SAID the foot patrols probably will be limited to the downtown area around Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire streets. Harmon added the foot patrols may be stretched to other Lawrence shopping areas.

Additionally, Harmon said the department ordered four Trek 930 model mountain bikes. The bikes will be outfitted with rear racks and the patrols will have a wardrobe of their own eventually.

Along with the standard safety helmets, the bike patrols may be sporting some different riding garb.

Despite the additions of the foot and bike patrols, Harmon added that patrol cars will be the main mode of police transportation.

"Our world is a mobile world," Gwin said. "How are you going to chase a criminal who jumps in a car when you're on foot?"

The police department now is going to be able to set up radar units and serve warrants on a regular basis, Gwin said.

"Since we have so many people on the street, we are capable of doing things we couldn't do before."

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