Coeur d’Alene Police Rolling out RECON E-Bike Patrols

Coeur d’Alene Press
by Bill Buley

March 6, 2024 1:07 AM
COEUR d’ALENE — Coeur d’Alene police will be rolling on ebikes starting May 1.

Ebike patrols will focus on downtown but respond to surrounding areas in case of emergencies.

“We can expand our reach into neighborhoods,” Capt. Jeff Walther told the City Council on Tuesday.

Police received a Justice Assistance Grant of $31,770 to purchase six ebikes and related equipment.

Walther said they will be the first in the country to use federal dollars for an ebike program.

Four ebike officers will be on daily patrol mid-day to evening. The black bikes will be highly visible, with “Police” in large white letters.

“People like them. They’re cool looking,” he said.

Walther said electric bikes will enhance community engagement. He said a lot of police work involves technology that requires officers to be in vehicles.

“It’s hard to engage with the community when you’re in a car,” he said.

Combined with downtown foot patrols this summer, Walther said it will give police a strong presence and deter criminal activity.

The all-weather ebikes could be deployed year-round and are capable of going about 30 mph, so no one will be outrunning them, Walhter said.

The ebike patrols will primarily get around by pedal power, but when necessary to go faster, they can utilize electric assistance.

According to a report on the website Electrek, police are more and more turning to electric bikes. They are more quickly deployable than police cruisers and their low cost means there can be more of them on the streets. That allows police officers to be more visible in the community and cover more ground in less time.

“Compared to pedal bikes, officers on electric bikes can rider farther and for longer,” the report said. “During pursuits, they’re less winded and more effective when making an arrest.

The report also said, “When it comes to engagement with the community, bike cops are simply a friendlier image than cops rolling up in a massive police truck.”

Councilman Dan English said complaints about speeding ebikers on the North Idaho Centennial Trail, which has a 15 mph speed limit, are common and asked if the ebike patrols could help slow things down.

“That’s definitely part of the mission,” Walther said.

Walther said for accountability purposes for the federal grant they received, they will track the effectiveness of the ebike patrol in terms of community outreach and on crime rates in the downtown area.

Councilmembers liked what they heard.

“I’m looking forward to a ride-along,” a smiling Councilman Dan Gookin said, which drew laughs from the crowd.

Walther said Gookin could go through training and would need a helmet, which led Councilwoman Christie Wood to joke, “He needs a basket.”