Shaker Heights police launching bike patrol unit to build community relationships

SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - The Shaker Heights Police Department is launching a bike patrol unit. Thirty officers are being trained for the program, which hopes to build better relationships with residents and business owners.

"When we deploy our officers, we're going to do it in such a manner where they're not distracted, and they can really spend time with our residents and get to know them," said Commander Michael Rowe. "We believe that our program is really going to create those positive (and) trusting relationships with our community members and business owners."

The department budgeted approximately $40,000 for equipment and training. Officer Joe LaGruth is excited for the new unit.

"It's way more personal than being in your car," LaGruth said. "I ride a bike at home. I can ride a bike on shift (and) deal with more interactions- personal interactions with the community members kind of hear their concerns and change the way I police."

The initiative fits with the departments community policing goal. It's a strategy Rowe said united people and in turn helps to prevent and solve crimes.

Liz Nau has called Shaker Heights home for 30 years.

"I think it's a great idea. There were bike patrols at an earlier time, and I feel like it gave a very important sense of presence," Nau said. "I think it's a way for our police department to not only be more approachable- but have a personal face to it rather than it's an entity that's not human.

It's that kind of common ground the police department is looking for as officer prepare to pedal the streets- looking to make a difference.

"It's all about showing the humanization of the badge," LaGruth said. "We're humans too. We're just out here trying to enforce the law and make sure everyone's doing the right thing.

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