Today, Tara Bolen sat down with Brooks Goedeker (WUMCRC Community Development  Manager and chair of the Grove CID  safety and security committee) and Officer Paul Henkhaus (a member of the City’s Finest LLC).  Both spoke about the role of the Forest Park Southeast supplemental patrols and their effectiveness on crime.

Brooks Goedeker stated…

“Safety and security is one of WUMCRC’s main objectives in both the Central West End and Forest Park Southeast.  In the last 10 years, WUMCRC has introduced a number of safety and security initiatives and patrol efforts in Forest Park Southeast; beginning with police officers in patrol cars, security guards in patrol cars, youth and gang-intervention specialists, and now police officers on bicycles.  The latest is a unique initiative that puts proactive police officers on bikes where they may easily interact with the neighborhood and in turn the neighborhood may easily approach them.

In the last three years, since the bike patrols were introduced, we’ve seen crime levels  significantly decrease and residents and businesses getting more involved.  During the same time period, I have received numerous compliments from the neighborhood regarding the bike patrols and their service to the area.  The patrolling officers also report being thanked daily by the residents and businesses.

What I’ve been told by long-time residents is that, now more than ever they feel comfortable and safe being out on their street and on their porches and consequently they have gotten to know their neighbors better.”

* In Forest Park Southeast, WUMCRC funds over 2000 hours of police patrols on bikes each year.  The Grove CID funds over 4000 hours of police patrols on bikes and security guards in golf carts each year.

Interview with Paul Henkhaus...

How do you see that the bike patrols are effective?

“I believe that the bike patrols have made a vast difference in the neighborhood with regard to gang activity, crime, and general nuisance such as people hanging out in the corners, in alley ways, and in front of other peoples homes.  The home owners do not want strangers hanging out in front of their homes which is understandable.  The key to having an effect in the neighborhood is visibility and interaction with the individuals that are problem folks.”

What is the reaction of the FPSE neighborhood to the bike patrols?

“The bike patrols have had a great reaction in the neighborhood.  The entire FPSE area has really welcomed us.  I’m in meetings a lot with my regular job with the night district, and they will discuss the bikes and how happy they are with the bike patrols,  not knowing that I have anything to do with them.  So, I get to hear about them that way and I hear about them through meetings with the FPSE neighborhood and the police officers on the bikes are also being thanked constantly by the residents.”

Do you feel that they are more approachable?

“Absolutely.  Approachability  has always been our philosophy from the beginning.  On bikes you see, hear and smell everything.  Your senses are heightened on a bike and there’s no question that when you’re on a bike you’re not closed off like you are in a car.

What kind of impact do you feel the patrols have had on crime?

“I think we’ve had a very positive impact on crime just based on the crime stats alone.  The City’s Finest doesn’t have everything to do with how the crime stats have been however, the 9th district,  the specialized units of the metropolitan Police Department, as well as the feedback from business owners and people who reside here all help in controlling the crime in the FPSE.”

Is this a model that you can see being duplicated all over the city?

“Yes, and in fact it has been.  We have different philosophies for different neighborhoods.  If there are gang members, we want to make sure we know who they are.  We have also been in the Central West End for a while as well and we work under the same basic idea, which is visibility, approachability, and friendliness.”

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