EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- The Eugene Police Department (EPD) has reached one of its major goals in an effort to increase downtown public safety as the department is now at full staff with its bike patrols, also known as the Downtown Public Safety Team.
For the last two years, EPD has been steadily ramping up its bike patrols in the downtown core as part of a multi-pronged Downtown Public Safety Plan.
The bicycle squad now has eleven officers. The biking officers are all part of the Downtown Team, which is focused entirely on public safety in the downtown core. According to the officers, their main goal is to cut down on illegal activity like drug and alcohol use and behavior crimes like assaults and harassment.
The hope is that with their presence, officers will give the area a safer feeling.
Sergeant Larry Crompton helps lead the downtown team. Crompton says he has noticed a big difference in the level of safety from the feedback he’s received from local businesses and visitors in the area.
Crompton says the officers are also more accessible and approachable on a bike than in a car, allowing a deeper relationship with people.
“And when you stop and reflect back on what it was like down here two years ago then you can see it, so, I think we've made a lot of progress. There's a long way to go, we have a lot of work to do down here, but things are well on course,” says Sergeant Crompton
Each officer on the downtown team goes through a week-long bicycle training course before being allowed to patrol on two wheels. Typically, there are three to four bike officers on patrol per shift. The team will stay on patrol in downtown year round.
When making arrests on bike, officers will switch to the prisoner transport van and drive in-custody subjects to either the Lane County Jail or Springfield Jail. With the transport van downtown, the bicycle team does not have to call in an officer on patrol that’s in a car elsewhere in the city.