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Grant lets police get back on the bicycle

Sandusky Register Staff • Jun 7, 2010 at 10:57 AM

 Even in tough times, the city's police department is pedaling forward.

The city will receive its second round of funding from a U.S. Department of Justice "Weed-and-Seed" grant in four months, allowing Sandusky police to kick-start the bike patrol program and log overtime pay for officers.

In last year's grant cycle, the city received $100,000, $24,000 of which covered police overtime.

This year the city gets $150,000, about $37,000 of which will fund 1,000 hours of overtime for officers, assuming the average rate of pay is about $37 an hour.

The grant also brings shiny, new equipment for Sandusky police.

Last week, police Lt. William McPeek picked up two $800 bicycles from A&B Hobbies in Sandusky. The bikes will give officers a tool to interact directly with the community, as opposed to the insulated -- or isolated -- nature of police cruisers.

The bikes are also less conspicuous, McPeek said, which may lead to more arrests.

Part of the grant covers police functions -- "weeding" out criminal activity -- and part covers community development, or planting the "seeds" for a better future.

The "seed" segment requires the city to establish a drug-free safe haven where rehabilitation programs are provided to city residents.

For that, the city has selected the Center of Cultural Awareness on Columbus Avenue. The center helps ex-felons assimilate into the community, and also helps individuals who are battling drug addiction or mental-health problems.

Without the grant the city may have been forced to reduce the bike patrol, a service that has proven valuable for the community, acting police chief Charlie Sams said.

Sams, in fact, said the bike patrol is something he personally enjoys. He went out "four or five times" last year.

"There was lots of positive feedback from the community just from when I went out there," Sams said. "You see things differently on the bike. You stop and look, instead of going by at 25 or 30 miles per hour. And sometimes the criminal doesn't see you. You kind of blend in when you're on the bike."

Sandusky police say they're hoping to arrange several bike patrols each week.

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