HOMER — The Homer Police Department introduced its bike patrol program on Wednesday.
The program, which has been in the works since January, has four officers using two bikes to patrol the Main Street area and Durkee Park, Griggs Field and Calale Park. The goal will be deterring and arresting offenders, mainly for drug-related offenses. Homer Police Chief Robert Pitman is looking to have the officers do three to four four-hour shifts per week over the summer.
Pitman said the bike officers will be an effective crime-fighting tool because of their increased mobility compared to foot patrols and ability to access areas police cars can’t reach. The officers will also be used for parades and other community events.
“The bike patrol officers will be more easily accessible to the community because they are on bikes, which makes them more approachable than the officer in a patrol car,” Pitman said.
The bikes used for this program were already in the village inventory in storage. They were disassembled, painted, detailed, and reassembled by Actions Sports, Rick & Rich Towing and O’Graphics Designs.
The officers in the program are Emmett Neno and Matt Compton and part-timers Andy San Jule, who recently retired from the Cortland Police Department, and Jenny Valentin, a member of the Ithaca College police department. They were all certified after attending a police bike patrol school hosted by the SUNY Cortland University Police.
The program is funded by Cortland Area Communities That Care. The money is provided through the Partnership for Success grant from the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. It provides Cortland Area Communities That Care with $627,000 for programs over four years, of which $4,000 will go toward funding the Bike Patrol Program.
“This is a perfect opportunity for Homer,” said coalition Director Matt Whitman.