Jan 3, 2014 1:10 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News
Expect to see more police in San Luis Obispo. On Thursday, two new bike officers with the San Luis Obispo Police Department started patrolling solely the downtown area during the day. The department said the goal is to show more of a police presence.
SLOPD already has two officers that are a part of the Community Action Team (CAT Team) that patrols the city on bike and on foot. However, the difference between the CAT officers and the two new bike officers is that the CAT officers focus their efforts on combating the homeless and transient issues in the downtown area. The two bike officers that started on Thursday will focus on all illegal activity downtown, which can include thefts and traffic violations.
"This is our core down here. This is what makes the city thrive is the downtown. And so our goal as a police department is to reach out to the community, to partner with the businesses down here, but also to provide a police presence and make people safe," said downtown bike officer Brent Inglehart.
Inglehart, a ten-year veteran with SLOPD, is one of two bike officers that will patrol downtown during the day. There will be no changes in regards to the police patrolling downtown at night. Officials said there will still be officers on bike and in the car roaming the streets during non-business hours, as usual.
In June 2012, the city council set in their budget enough funding for the police department to hire two full-time police officers just for the downtown area during daytime hours.
Inglehart said dealing with transients will likely consume most of his time, but his job is to also work closely with business owners.
"Teach them what to look for in regards to people who may be coming to try to take advantage of their store or take items from their store," said Inglehart.
Inglehart said his bike is exactly like a police car. He will be able to pull over drivers who commit traffic violations, and he'll be able to clear red lights for traffic if need be. Inglehart said one of the perks of patrolling on a bike is that it gives him more immediate access to the community, to figure out what they want and need.
He said, "In the car you're not gonna hear as much as you would normally on a bicycle. You're out in the public, interacting, a lot more audible noises you can hear, a lot more personal policing too."
Police said many of its calls for service come from the downtown area. They said 30-percent of its call volume are complaints about transients aggressively panhandling, being drunk in public, and committing crimes.
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