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SAN DIEGO -- Building on the success of the San Diego Police Department's North Park bicycle team, a similar team has started patrolling the business district in neighboring Hillcrest.
District 3 City Councilmember Todd Gloria was joined by a number of police and community business leaders near the iconic Hillcrest sign earlier today to officially announce the program.
The bicycle team, which consists of one sergeant and four officers, began patrolling the neighborhood on Sept. 17 providing coverage on Wednesday through Saturday evenings from 5 pm to 3 am. Two additional officers will join the team upon delivery of new bicycles that are being purchased by local business owners.
Assistant Chief of Police Boyd Long spoke at today's press conference and made it clear that the bike team was not implemented because of a spike in crime in the neighborhood.
"We have not seen a crime increase in Hillcrest," Long said. "The purpose of the team is to increase public safety and serve as sort of a chamber of commerce. Police officers on bicycles are more accessible to citizens and are an essential part of making a community feel safe."
Gloria said he is pleased that the bike team has been implemented in Hillcrest and believes that it will only benefit the community.
“The creation of the Hillcrest Bike Team demonstrates what is possible when businesses and neighbors partner with the City,” Gloria said. “This will help ensure crimes are addressed and help create a better atmosphere for residents and visitors along University Avenue.”
With Police Department funds in short supply, Gloria said that he contacted the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) to help raise money for two additional bicycles. The HBA responded, raising $3,000 from its members, including Nick Moede of Rich's nightclub, Sean Cute of The Ruby Room, Johnathan Hale of Hale Media, David Laurent of Eden and Chris Shaw of Urban Mo's.
Long said the specialty bikes are not just "run-of-the-mill" mountain bikes but are specially built for policing purposes.
“I am encouraged by the support that Hillcrest businesses are providing,” said Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the HBA. “This is a great example of the many ways that Hillcrest businesses work directly with the police to protect our community and make Hillcrest a safe place to live and work.”
Gloria said that the ongoing involvement of the business community will be helpful in ensuring the bike officers are present and aware of specific concerns.
Long-time community activist Big Mike Phillips attended today's news conference and said that he is pleased with the addition of the bike patrols in Hillcrest.
"I think this is wonderful that we now have this kind of protection in our neighborhood," Phillips said. "The Police Department coming together with the HBA has made it so that it is comfortable and easy for citizens to have greater access to police and so the officers can reach areas they might not have been able to before."
Hale said that he was pleased to have been able to provide support for this neighborhood effort.
"At a time when our City faces unprecedented budget cuts, it is public private partnerships like this that help maintain the quality of life in our neighborhoods," Hale said. "I am truly thankful for the efforts of the Hillcrest Business Association and my colleagues in making the Hillcrest SDPD bike patrol a reality. The added security and peace of mind is something I am sure everyone can appreciate."
For more information, contact Gloria's office at (619) 236-6633.