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Police Bicycle Patrols

FARMVILLE – The Farmville Police Department is putting its mettle to the pedal.

Bicycle patrol began this week, allowing the police to boldly go where they have never gone before.

Bicycle pedals can take a police officer where a patrol car cannot, and in a way that allows communication and rapport with the Farmville residents they are serving.

“Wherever we see a need,” Police Chief Doug Mooney told Town Council this month when asked about where the police officers would patrol on bike.

“We may take them to some of the neighborhoods on Virginia Street; it may be to Park View (Gardens); it may be The Avenues. Just wherever we decide to put them out there to get the officers closer to the people in the community where they can talk to them.”

There will be no set, hard and fast bike patrol routes.

“That's correct,” the police chief said. “We may have a need to take them even to the rails to trails (High Bridge Trails State Park) for different things.

“It gets us places we normally wouldn't be able to get to,” Chief Mooney explained to Town Council members. “So just wherever the need arises.”

The Town of Farmville received a $2,000 grant to purchase the police bikes and selected two officers to undertake the mandatory training. One officer, however, was unable to attend due to an injury, according to Farmville Police Captain Wade Stimpson.

Officer Albert Bappert is currently the lone police cyclist but will eventually be joined by a second officer. The department's original goal was four, so funding may be sought in the future for two additional bikes. But one pair of tires has already taken to the town.

“It's being used now. We had one of the officers go out this week (on patrol),” Capt. Stimpson told The Herald on Wednesday.

<!– 1upcrlf2 –>With the state park going right through the town, Capt. Stimpson noted police in patrol cars couldn't reach the trail without first getting a key to the gates blocking vehicles from driving on the path. “Unless you get a key, you can't cover it,” the police captain said.

A bicycle, on the other hand, will be “real good for that…

“It's going to be a real good addition,” he said, “to the town.”

There are few limits to the capabilities of bike patrols and Chief Mooney told council members that he has spoken with Longwood University Campus Police Chief Bob Beach “and we will be riding on campus some, in conjunction with their officers.”

Patrolling by bike is part of the Farmville Police Department's efforts to improve its community policing, which saw it participate in National Night Out for the first time this summer, in addition to engaging neighborhoods in fun and effective ways, from cook-outs to Neighborhood Watch Programs.

Farmville Police Detective C. W. Moss has been involved in a leadership role in those efforts and reflected this summer on the advantages of officers patrolling on bikes, which he believes helps create stronger bonds between police and the community they protect.

“It's fun. It's a fun way to work and it's a very productive way to work, also,” he told The Herald. “It's almost like the window in your car can be a barrier sometimes.”

With bikes, he said, “you can just pull over and stop; if you see someone in their yard or somewhere you can just roll up there and stop and talk to them.

“The possibilities,” Detective Moss said, “are endless.”

With the police department's mettle to the bicycles' pedals.