ALTON — Madison County Transit (MCT) donated two iForce patrol bicycles to the Alton Police Department Wednesday in an effort to facilitate the development of bicycle patrols in Madison County.
MCT Managing Director Jerry Kane said the bicycles can help build relationships between citizens and patrol officers.
“I saw the difference myself in Chicago,” Kane said. “We were talking with a bicycle patrolman on the sidewalk. Another officer was in a patrol car not far from us with his windows down and it was during the summer time. We were interrupted at least a dozen times. People were willing to come up to the patrolman on the bike, but no one approached the patrolman in the car with the windows down. The officers on the bicycles seemed much more approachable to citizens.”
The mountain bike-style bicycles were custom designed by iForce, a company that manufactures patrol bikes exclusively in the United States. Each bicycle has vehicle-grade sirens that are thumb-switch controlled. Included are flashing LED mini light bars and public address speakers. The tires are made with puncture-resistant Kevlar and adjustable air shock and mechanical disc brakes.
Alton Pfc. Emanuel Espinoza described the handle grips and seat as being “pretty comfortable.”
“We have a lot of functions down at the riverfront with concerts,” Alton Police Chief Jason “Jake” Simmons said. “We have a lot of marathons, MS and breast cancer awareness walks and this will be a good way to get out there with the community and show that the police are right there with our citizens. The bikes will be used this Saturday during the MS ride, so our officers will be there riding as well. This is great physical exercise for our officers as well.”
Alton Mayor Brant Walker said he is encouraged with the connections the bicycles will create between the department and the people of Alton.
“I really want to thank MCT and Jerry Kane for giving these bikes to our officers,” Walker said. “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for a town like ours that has a lot of public events with larger crowds. This is a great opportunity to help officers interact with the community, to be more mobile and to get through crowds easier. It answers a lot of things that people in our community have been asking for. People have been wanting our officers to have more time out of the cars and to help them be more approachable.”
MCT allows officers to travel while in uniform on fixed-route buses for free. The officers will be able to take advantage of the bike racks on every MCT bus to transport them to different parts of Alton to patrol.
The bicycles were assembled and will be maintained by Tom Harp of Wild Trak Bikes, 101 E. Broadway in Alton.