Officers in the Tucson Police Department’s downtown division have some new rides, thanks to a $30,000 donation from the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation.
The foundation donated four electric bicycles and 10 mountain bikes to the division for its patrol personnel. The foundation has been donating equipment to the department since 2003.
“The need for enhancing and reinvigorating their downtown bike patrol unit arose, so they communicated with us their need … and we went ahead and funded and purchased those bikes for them,” said Bonnie Faircloth, executive director of the foundation.
The electric bikes will be used to give bicycle officers an easier time pedaling on their patrols, said Lt. Tom Hawke, who oversees the program at the downtown division.
“It has an electric motor that aids in making the bike go so the officers aren’t having to expend as much energy to get places,” Hawke said.
The e-bikes come equipped with options to adjust to the various terrains a police officer may encounter, such as hills, Hawke said. The vehicles also will be useful when officers are on patrol during hot weather, he added.
“Because the officers are able to get to more places faster using less energy, hopefully they’ll be more efficient, they’ll be able to cover a wider area,” Hawke said.
Hawke said the bikes will help officers patrol a wider area, respond to incidents more quickly and help out, when needed, in other divisions.
Hawke said the plan is to use the 10 donated mountain bikes to replace older bicycles, strip the working parts from those older bikes and rebuild several bikes in need of repairs that are still usable.
“We can now take some of the old bikes, build out six to eight bikes ... and give those to the different patrol divisions,” Hawke said, “so that those bike-certified officers could use those bikes on a part-time basis to work special projects.”
The donation was made possible through the foundation’s six annual events each year, including its Unsung Heroes Awards Dinner and Gala, which nominates law enforcement personnel who dedicate off-duty time to the community.
Faircloth said it takes grants and donors to support the needs of police officers. The foundation currently assists the Tucson, Marana and University of Arizona police departments.
“I think our relationship is fantastic, they’ve been a great help,” Hawke said about the nonprofit.
“They recently purchased a new canine for us for our service-dog unit. They’re helping downtown with the bikes. They help in a lot of different ways.”