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Bikes Vs. Gangs: City Is Doubling Its Fleet Of Bike Cops This Summer

By Selena Fragassi in News on Aug 4, 2015 5:40PM

A new fleet of Chicago police officers will be patrolling the streets on bicycles by the end of the summer, the mayor's office announced Monday night. About 200 additional, specially-equipped bikes will soon be put into gear—bringing the total to 400 citywide.

It’s all a result of the city’s $2 million investment, announced last October, to double CPD’s bike program, which was given extra attention after the bike cops proved effective during the city's NATO protests two years ago. Supporters say bikes are more maneuverable in high traffic areas such as the Loop and create a better connection between communities and authorities because officers on bikes seem more approachable.

“It’s hard to feel threatened or hostile to a person in shorts,” Chris Menton, a Roger Williams University professor of criminal justice told RedEye last year Menton said the practice of bike patrols has been growing in urban areas over the last 25 years.

Armed with that knowledge, CPD has deployed additional bike teams to 20 of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods on the South and West Sides as a part of the “Operation Impact” program, which officials say has been successful.

"I had people coming up to me and say that they felt the positive presence of our officers in these high-crime areas and they felt safer as a result. I know our commanders have had similar experiences as they are out in the community every day," Supt. Garry McCarthy told NBC Chicago last spring when the initiative was first getting rolling.

Bike patrols are also beneficial for crowd control at festivals, and will be the topic of interest at tonight’s “National Night Out,” that promotes safety in the streets.