The new bicycle patrol unit in the 49th Precinct is bringing the police closer to the community.
The unit was formed two and a half months ago.
“When I was newly assigned to the precinct, I was looking for a way to help improve community and officer relations,” said Captain Walton.
He had a suggestion box placed on the front desk giving officers a chance to voice opinions and share ideas on how to the precinct could achieve his goal.
Police officer Roger Rachelski suggested creating a bike patrol unit which struck a cord with their commanding officer.
As a community police officer from 1997 to 2001 in Harlem’s 32nd Precinct the captain patrolled by bike.
Police officer Rachelski and his partner, police officer Juan Sanchez are bike certified and have experience patrolling the streets of New York on their two-wheeled vehicles.
“It was so fitting when they came up with this idea and I remembered from my own experience how success this idea was in Harlem,” said Captain Walton.
The bike patrol covers all nine sectors of the 3.8 square mile precinct as many as three times a day and has received rave reviews from the community.
As a way to have the precinct become more involved in their community, police officers Rachelski and Sanchez have their precinct’s official Twitter handle, @NYPD49Pct emblazoned on the back of their shirts so residents can contact them with non-emergency issues.
The bike patrol unit responds to 911- and 311-related calls, issues quality-of-life summonses, visits schools and interacts with the local folks.
This dynamic duo will continue to ride into late November.
The precinct is looking to increase the bike patrol unit in addition to having officers trained to become bike-certified this spring.
“This new bike unit is beginning to show the different neighborhoods coming together while at the same time quality-of-life matters are being addressed freeing up the patrol officers to respond to emergency calls,” explained police officer Jay Sturdivant, 49th Precinct Community Affairs. “We are always looking for more ways to better serve the community and the community loves seeing the bike unit patrolling and never miss the opportunity to have me relay the message to the commanding officer, Captain Walton.”
Police officer Sanchez joined the ranks of the 49th Precinct in January 2007 and has been patrolling the precinct’s confines ever since.
Police officer Rachelski transferred from the 62nd Precinct in Brooklyn to the 49th Precinct in 2009 and is partnered with Sanchez.
Since then, police officers Rachelski and Sanchez have become a great team, enjoying their work with the NYPD.
The duo can often be seen lending a helping hand to anyone in need which is why the bike patrol unit has been a great fit for them.
By patrolling on bikes, the police officers are better connected with the community they have sworn to protect and serve, said police officer Sturdivant.
“It’s been a very positive experience being part of this patrol and people almost treat us like celebrities when they see us in the neighborhood,” said Sanchez. “
“People see us as being more approachable and it’s really starting to help bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement,” said Rachelski.
“I fought for five years to bring bike patrol officers back into the community and I am very glad we have these officers because they really are a great crime deterrent,” said Susan Shapiro, Pelham Parkway Houses resident.