CHICAGO (CBS) — A year after saturating 20 targeted high-crime areas of the city with extra cops on foot patrols, the Police Department has given scores of those officers bicycles for their patrols.
WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports the bike patrols in so-called “impact zones” won’t increase the number of officers deployed under “Operation Impact,” which began in February 2013, but it will make them more mobile.
“Getting them out of cars, on foot patrol – or in this area, on bike patrol – in our neighborhoods and communities allows them to be all that more effective,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
The mayor said it’s easier for a police officer on a bike to interact with local residents than one driving around in a squad car, while also having more mobility than an officer on foot.
Emanuel said makes basic sense to have some officers on bikes, and it “fundamentally builds out our community policing strategy; interacting with the neighborhood, interacting with the community.”
Approximately 140 officers assigned to Operation Impact will participate in the bike patrols.
“We’re taking it a step further, which is we’re providing them a little bit more mobility,” he said. “It’s a natural progression of the strategy. I like it. I like it a lot,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
The superintendent said the Operation Impact zones might cover only a small fraction of the city, but those zones are some of the worst when it comes to crime.
“While these zones represent just about 3 percent of the geography of the city of Chicago; for the last three years they represented almost 20 percent of the robberies, shootings, and murders,” McCarthy said.
According to McCarthy, in the 14 months Operation Impact has been in effect, murders in the impact zones have dropped almost 50 percent, shootings have dropped by 43 percent, and overall crime has gone down 26 percent.