CPD bike patrols to swarm high-crime areas

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is beefing up one of his crime-fighting strategies, dubbed "Operation Impact."
April 18, 2014 3:14:19 PM PDT
Bicycles may not often be thought of as a front line law enforcement tool. But Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is beefing up one of his crime-fighting strategies, which focused originally on foot patrols, with bikes.

Police have 20 designated high crime impact zones where they have deployed officers on foot patrol as part of "Operation Impact". The department said these zones have seen significant drops in violent crime. One third of these foot patrols - 120 officers - will now patrol the same zones on bikes.

"Since we launched 'Operation Impact' on Feb. 1 of last year in the impact zones, murders are down almost 50 percent, shootings are down 43 percent and overall crime is down 26 percent," McCarthy said. "But we want to do even better for the communities that we serve."

McCarthy said that the bikes have been deployed since April 1 to certain foot patrol teams in the South and West Sides, parts of the city that see the highest rates of violence.

"When we first came into the Back of the Yards, the gang bangers didn't know what to think," said Officer Chirstopher Miller. "They moved back into their gangways. They weren't sure what we were gonna do."

Miller works out of the Deering district. He has been part of the bike patrol for 12 of his 23 years on the department. Being mobile, he says, has paid off many times - not just in making arrests, but also because people who have a concern or information and are more inclined to approach a cop on a bike than in a passing squad.

"For whatever reason, they don't want to call 911," Miller said. "They see the yellow jackets, they come up and say 'Hey, check that out.'"

In 19 of the so-called impact zones, police are transforming some of their beat walkers into beat riders.


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