Police bicycle unit rolls into Clintonville area

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CLINTONVILLE, Ohio — Police officers on bicycles are rolling into the Clintonville area this summer.

Patrol officers said there are an estimated 10 miles of bike trails and most of it is inaccessible by cruiser. Sergeant Dana Hess said at least two officers on bicycles will patrol the community seven days a week this summer, and said officers intend to have a visible presence on the trails.

"In order to prevent crime, we want to get officers out on those trails talking to people who are biking and running," said Sgt. Hess.

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Police said the Clintonville area is an ideal location for bicycle patrols because the High Street corridor, home to shops, cafes and restaurants, is already pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

Patrol officers said it's an opportunity to listen to the concerns of the people they are trying to protect and said for some reason, it's difficult for people to make a connection with an officer in a cruiser.

"But when you have that bike, that officer on a bike, who's waving to you and saying hi to you, you're more willing to speak to them, reach out to them," said Sgt. Hess.

In early April, CrimeTracker 10 caught up with the newly formed bicycle unit as officers stood by while students dismissed from school. Their presence was in response to parents' concerns about drivers' speeding through school zones. As some officers handed out stickers and high fives to children, others pedaled up and down the street making their presence known.

Police said after school dismisses for the summer, the bicycle unit will have its work cut out. CrimeTracker 10 obtained crime numbers for the Clintonville area. Last year, police investigated 91 stolen cars, 229 burglaries and 37 robberies. By far, the crime that most plagued the community was thefts from vehicles. Police investigated nearly 500 reports of thieves breaking into cars.

"So, we're going to keep our bikes going up and down the streets to try to deter criminals from breaking into vehicles," said Sgt. Hess.

Police said tracking crime patterns is always helpful.

"...Until someone says 'hey, we need you on our street, we need your help, can you come and help us?' Now, we're personally invested," said Sgt. Hess.

The three-precinct bicycle unit will track its success between May 1 and Aug. 31. Sgt. Hess said by the end of May, a total of seven officers will be fully trained to patrol the community on two wheels.