A recent letter suggested that police should have more bicycle patrols in Santa Monica (“Cite the bikers,” Letter to the Editor, Jan. 1). This is a great suggestion. Many of our officers are already professionally trained for such patrols. I believe the local force even includes a certified trainer for bicycle patrols.
What seems to be missing, so far, is the political and cultural will to show the public that bicycles are now a normal part of life in Santa Monica. Bike patrols are currently only employed on roads without car traffic: on the beach path and on the Third Street Promenade. Officers do not ride their bikes on streets with car traffic, not even a single block across the Fourth Street bridge back to the police headquarters: The bikes are being loaded onto a car with a special bike carrier and the “cyclist” takes a chauffeured trip both ways. How weird is this? Are we really doing this? Do we have the money for this?
I think it is high time to get our officers out on the streets on their bicycles and to start a new and exiting chapter of community policing. When I raised this matter recently with Police Chief Seabrooks, she said that officers needed to move quickly from one end of town to the other in case of a major incident. We probably have enough motor officers on our streets driving fast cars so that at any given time two officers could patrol on bicycle, in the neighborhoods and on all our major streets. Slow policing encourages valuable community interaction and daily bicycle patrols on all roads would provide a much needed boost for traffic safety in Santa Monica.