Sean I. Mills
Staff writer Daily Sentinel
UTICA — A new type of police patrol will be putting pedal to the pavement in the City of Utica soon, because city officials unveiled their new electronic bicycles on Wednesday.
Four Recon Interceptor Power Bikes have been purchased to supplement the department’s existing traditional bicycle patrols. The new e-bikes are expected to pull off eight to 12 hours worth of use and will be used primarily in city parks while still being available for traditional crime-fighting, according to Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.
“We are now going to upgrade into an e-bike, which is much more environmentally sound. But more importantly, it gives our law enforcement the ability to be proactive from Roscoe Conkling Park to F.T. Proctor Park to wherever they may be without taxing themselves,” Palmieri explained.
“If we’re going to have people come to our parks and utilize our parks, you need to have law enforcement there to make sure the quality of life is there and people feel safe.”
The first four e-bikes have been purchased with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the mayor said, with hopes to budget for more such bikes in the future. The Utica Police Department has 12 trained bicycle officers already, thanks to their traditional bike patrols, and Palmieri said they have plans to send three more officers to training soon.
The mayor called the new e-bikes “another evolution in technology” for the department.
According to Police Chief Mark Williams, Mayor Palmieri came to his department several weeks ago with the idea. Captain Brian Bansner started researching e-bikes and struck a deal with a manufacturer. The heavy-duty bicycles can reach speeds of up to 30 mph and carry a rechargeable battery.
Each e-bike is also equipped with red and blue flashing lights and a siren.
“Bike patrols have always been a great asset to the City of Utica. When it comes to community policing, they’re probably one of the best assets you can have,” said Chief Williams.
“Citizens always find that the officers on the bikes are a lot more approachable, a lot less intimidating, and you can actually make a lot more citizen contacts with bike patrols out there.”
The chief noted that electronic bicycles will also save on the wear and tear of the officers using them.
“You can cover a large area of territory in a short period of time,” Williams stated. “You also don’t have to worry about the officer. In the event he’d have to race somewhere quickly, he’d be fatigued by the time he got there” on a traditional bike.