This summer, St. Paul police have been trying out a new tool that makes them more stealthy while patrolling the streets, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. It’s called a bicycle. Four officers have been assigned full-time to patrol on bicycles this summer. The pilot program was set up to address complaints about groups of young people hanging out on the streets, sometimes getting into fights, shoplifting or other trouble.
St. Paul has largely used bikes in the past in the downtown area, especially to keep the peace at big public events like the Republican National Convention in 2008. Now, the police are seeing if bikes can be used in neighborhoods to catch drug dealers and garage burglars. Officer Jason Bain said people still don’t expect to see a pedaling police officer, which sometimes has meant that officers can quietly roll up to a crime in progress without alerting the criminals. “The criminals hate it. At first they don’t realize we’re cops and we’re on bikes,” Bain said. There are some disadvantages. “We don’t have that 3,000-pound vehicle to protect us,” Bain said. And a bike can’t haul many of the tools, like a computer or a shotgun, that a police officer might normally take on patrol.