Bakersfield police are patrolling downtown in a new way. BPD have added three new Bicycle Patrol officers. And local downtown business owners are hoping it will help solve some of the downtown’s problems.
Dawn Baumgerten is the owner of Log Cabin Florist. When she talks with other downtown owner she said she hears similar complaints about downtown. Baumgerten said, “Biggest problems for us, vandalism, homeless, transients.”
This week three Bakersfield police officers started patrolling downtown on new grant paid for bicycles. BPD officers said they will be riding between 24th Street, Union Avenue, Oak Street and California Avenue. Their goal is to cut down the problems business owners are seeing.
Lindy Poteete is BPD bicycle patrol officers. She said, “By making contact with businesses, just kind of get an idea of what they’re expecting of us and provide a service for them.”
Another objectives is to help the homeless transient population downtown. Chief Lyle Martin says the three officers were chosen because of their mental health background. And he says getting more people familiar with his officers will build trust.
“They work with the homeless collaborative, so they know which resources are available and how to get people to those resources. If we can be that liaison and put people at ease they’re more likely to get the services,” said Chief Martin.
The business owners I talked with today tell me the like the idea of having more officers visible downtown.
Locale owner, Heather Laganelli said, “When you go into any other big city and you’re downtown you have a police presence. And I think it’s important for people to see that there’s somebody there. So if they were going to commit a crime they’d be less likely to do so.”
Baumgerten said, “I think that most of the problem individuals are looking for a police car, but I think the bike will have an advantage over that.”
This program is one of the initiatives that Councilman Andrae Gonzales pushed for. And Councilman Gonzales says a cleaner, safer downtown will spur more people and businesses to come here.