This SLO County police department is adding electric bikes to its fleet. This is why

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One local police department is expanding its fleet of patrol vehicles by going electric. The Grover Beach Police Department recently acquired four new electric bikes, police Cmdr. Bryan Millard said, which will triple the size of its bike patrol to six bicycles. The agency has two traditional bicycles in addition to the new acquisitions.

Millard that officers on bike patrol have to carry around 30 pounds of gear, often uphill, which is where electric bikes can come in handy. “It’s really a good assistance, especially if you’re on duty and you have to respond somewhere quickly,” Millard said.

The acquisition of these new bikes was made possible through funding from the American Recovery Plan Act, Millard said, “with the goal of providing better outreach to (the) city.” Although Grover Beach police will continue to primarily rely on police cars for patrols, Millard said that the bikes will allow officers to patrol areas that are not accessible by car — such as parks and community events where some streets are closed off, as well as natural and off-road areas. “There are folks that are living in homeless situations (in these areas),” Millard said. “Those bikes will allow us to do better outreach to them, so that we can check on their welfare and we can patrol those areas that don’t get service from a car.”

In addition, Millard said the police department hopes expanding bike patrols will encourage community members to reach out to their officers more. “When you’re on a bike, you’re more approachable,” Millard said. “I’ve already been asked questions even on my short test ride. It’s a way of connecting with people.” Electric bikes aren’t part of the active fleet yet, as some of the bikes still need to be outfitted. Additionally, officers on bike patrol also need to be trained on how to use the bikes effectively for police response, Millard said. With training expected to take place next month, Millard said he hopes to have at least one electric bike available to patrol Stone Soup Festival, which will take place in Ramona Park in late August.