CHICAGO (CBS) — Bicycles aren’t just a fun way to get around this time of year, they’re also an effective crime-fighting tool, according to Chicago police.
Because of that, more than a hundred officers are taking bikes for a spin in some of Chicago’s most violent areas.
The bright yellow Chicago Police jackets are hard to miss, and so are the bike-riding officers wearing them.
“You’re very accessible,” officer Christopher Miller told CBS 2’s Mai Martinez. “I mean there isn’t a day goes by that people don’t come up to us and say, ‘Hey listen, I don’t know, you might want to check out those guys or you might want to check out that car,’ and then they walk away.”
That’s exactly the kind of community results that Chicago police want.
As a result, since April, officers on bikes have been patrolling some of Chicago’s most violent areas–20 targeted zones–based on past crime.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says foot patrols launched in those areas last year are already having an impact.
“Murders are down almost 50 percent,” McCarthy said. “Shootings are down 43 percent and overall crime is down 26 percent.”
And it’s not just the numbers that are changing.
Public perception is, too.
“The elderly people, me, my grandkids, we feel safe,” said Chatham resident Lorraine Thompson. “Every time I see them, I speak and wave. It’s good to know they are riding around.
“I can’t speak for all blocks, but this block is quiet.”
Marvin Mayberry says it was a much different story before the foot and bike patrols.
“A lot of guys standing out,” he said. “You couldn’t even walk down the street because they would be blocking the sidewalk.”
At total of 122 officers are currently trained to do bike patrols in the 20 impact zones.
Another 18 will be trained in the next couple of weeks.