Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riding after Bad Guys Sheriff's Unit Gets 15 Donated Bikes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riding after Bad Guys Sheriff's Unit Gets 15 Donated Bikes

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Fifteen Jacksonville police officers have new blue light specials to patrol the city this winter, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.

The new patrol vehicles aren't four-wheel Benzes.

Instead, the German car company donated special all-terrain mountain bikes equipped with front and rear disc brakes, 24 speeds, front and rear suspension and a deeply padded ergonomic saddle to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's Bike Patrol Unit Monday .

Price tag: about $2,000 each, and perfect for cruising downtown Jacksonville, Alltel Stadium and the Springfield area, where these officers say they often have to go where no bicycle has gone before.

"We ride our bikes 11 to 12 hours a day," said Sgt. Richard Elkins. "We are jumping curbs, going down back alleys riding over and down railroad tracks sometimes chasing people, so it makes a big difference the way the bike feels. With a full suspension, it's a lot nicer."

The bicycles, presented at the car company's regional office at 8813 Western Way, were supposed to be donated to the sheriff's office the same week terrorists hit New York and Washington. But the presentation was delayed, and now seems to mean more, said Mark Korman, Mercedes-Benz's regional general manager.

"More today than ever, we recognize the value of our police officers and firefighters in the community, particularly in the last few months," he said. "It is really going to be nice to see them here in our hometown, so enjoy them and use them safely."

The International Police Mountain Bike Association says there are about 1,400 bicycle patrol units in action all over the country, including in Jacksonville, which has been using mountain bikes to patrol downtown and Springfield for years. The association, formed in 1992 as a resource for police departments to share ideas, training tips, patrol tactics and safety issues, teamed with Mercedes to give away 1,000 mountain bikes to police agencies nationwide. …

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