PETERSBURG, AK <p> People stare at Officer Joe Boggs when he passes them on his bike. The novelty of a cycling police officer seems to override the unspoken code of avoiding eye contact with authority. Boggs says it’s a good thing. </p>
<p> “A lot of folks I’ve talked to when I’m out on the bike or walking, they just like seeing you where you can actually talk to them. Being out with them, being in their element a little bit, so you’re not just always stuck in a car. I think people like seeing that.” </p>
<p> Boggs started bike patrolling in June and tries to make it out a few times a week. </p>
<p> “The first day I went out the weather was just horrible. I was so excited to get going and finally got all the gear and all my patches sewn on and got the schedules to work out. Perfect, we’re going out. First day the rain was just coming down, it was blowing, it was just… Looking back it was a perfect first day.” </p>
<p> The weather is considerably nicer this evening. The patrol route is a big loop around Petersburg on roads and gravel paths. Boggs says patrolling on a bike makes it easier to access areas that would impossible or difficult in a vehicle. </p>
<p> “You’re a lot quicker on a bike than you would be on foot. But at the same time you’re going to smell and hear a lot more than you would in a car.” </p>
<p> This theory is put to the test in the first minute of the patrol. </p>
<p> “That kind of smell like pot, huh?” </p>
<p> On closer examination, Boggs decides the smell is more likely burning garbage, but we do a quick tour of the neighborhood anyways. </p>
<p> The evening is quiet. Boggs checks out a few ‘hot-spots’ and finds empty liquor bottles and makeshift pipes, but no people. That prompts a question about what would happen if he did need to make an arrest. </p>
<p> “Yeah, you get a lot of the friendly comments. You gotta put him on the seat and handcuff him around the waist? But that’s the nice part about having another officer on duty, if I make contact I can let him know where I’m at and what I’m doing. And if someone needs to be transported we can get a transport in a car. If that means walking them up to the road or whatever, that’s fine. It’s definitely nice to have another officer that can provide a transport so you don’t get stuck doing that. Or potentially it would just be a long walk. </p>
<p> Boggs says the bike patrol will continue for the rest of the summer and hopefully expand to the rest of the department. For the time being, he is the only officer certified to ride. </p>