CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - In an effort to lower crime and build on their relationship with the community, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office established a new bicycle patrol unit.
The unit is made up of seven deputies, who each applied for the position. The sheriff’s public information officer told Action News Jax this bike unit has been established for years, but they just updated their equipment and added new members.
Deputies completed approximately 32 hours of training with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Sheriff Damon Hysler described the training as difficult but effective.
“We did a lot of rides in Downtown Jacksonville, going up bridges and down bridges, and learning how to operate, get out with people and make contact with people on the bicycles safely,” Hysler said.
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Hysler went on to say the training included routes across the Acosta and Main Street bridges, as well as the streets of Downtown Jacksonville. Police taught deputies how to effectively approach people in while on a bike and how to guard themselves from an attack.
“We’re going to go to hot spots,” Hysler said. “Our intel unit tells us where hot spots are having a lot of crime intel, things going on, calls for service. We’ll go in there and patrol in that area, make contact with people and try to find out what’s going on, why it’s a hot spot.”
While the unit offers a new way to chase crime, they said it also allows the deputies to be more approachable to neighbors and build on their community relationship.
“We can get out easier with people, we can hear more, we’re more approachable,” Hysler said.
“You get a good interaction with people out, mingling,” neighbor Laquita Kennedy said. “It’s different being in a car versus being on a bike.”
Deputies say the unit has started effectively immediately. Hysler said neighbors can expect to see the unit in neighborhoods soon.
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