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Bike patrol program up and pedaling

The Rosemount Police Department is always looking for ways to better serve its residents. Part of that process is coming up with new tools to combat crime in the city.

This summer, the department is working to start a bike patrol program. Sgt. Mikael Dahlstrom said theft, vandalism, damage to property and assaults are the most reported problems in Rosemount, especially during the summer.

In an effort to minimize those crimes, Dahlstom said officers have increased their neighborhood patrols in their squad cars and on foot. Both tactics have limitations, though.

Dahlstrom said squad cars equipped with light bars, high-powered engines and police decals scream that police are in the area.

“It is difficult to patrol a neighborhood inconspicuously from a squad,” said Dahlstrom.

On the other hand, officers on foot can only cover a small amount of ground.

Bike patrol offers a middle ground between the two tactics. Dahlstrom said bike patrol units in other cities, including one in Farmington, have proven effective in combatting crime.

Dahlstrom said the bike patrol will deter crime through more visibility, increased apprehension of criminals using the element of surprise, provide officers access to areas that are inaccessible by vehicle, offer a less threatening mode of policing and provide better means of community policing.

Additionally, he said bikes can be used to effectively patrol community events such as parades and festivals.

“We are confident the program will help reduce crime within the city,” said Dahlstrom.

There are also benefits to the department. Dahlstrom said bike patrol costs will be lower than a traditional squad, bikes create less pollution and the exercise will benefit officers’ personal health.

There are some drawbacks, of course. Officers won’t have access to all the technology they have in their cars and they are limited in what they can carry on a bike in terms of equipment.

To begin with, Dahlstrom and officer Josh Swenson will make up the bike patrol program. The Mall of America Security Department donated two lightly used Cannondale mountain bikes to the Rosemount Police Department.

The Mall of America Security Department has a large and active bike patrol program, which frequently upgrades its equipment. Swenson said the Rosemount Police Department was able to recondition the bikes to be used on patrol again. The bicycles have been outfitted with lighting and medical supplies.

Dahlstrom said the city received a $1000 grant from Target, which went toward equipping the bikes for service.

While the program is just getting started, interim police chief Bryan Burkhalter said he believes it will be a good addition to department.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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