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Bicycle Coordination Unit (BCU)
In the 1970's, Pacific Area began using a limited number of bicycles for patrol along the Venice Beach area to increase visibility during peak seasons. In the 1980's, the use of bicycles expanded to include community-based policing and increased visibility in congested areas of the City, and by 1990, most areas were utilizing bicycles. In response to the increasing number of bicycles used for patrol, the department established the Bicycle Coordination Unit (BCU). The BCU is responsible for organizing the bicycle patrol units and maintaining the department’s bicycle fleet.
Today, between 200 and 250 bicycle officers are deployed on a daily basis in all 18 Areas of the LAPD. Approximately 1,500 officers have completed the LAPD Bicycle Patrol School, which provides officers with five days of intensive, certified training in pursuit bicycle handling, bicycle safety, night patrol techniques, shooting, and maintenance.
Bicycle patrol provides greater visibility in high crime areas that are more difficult to patrol by motor vehicle, including public housing, retail centers, and beaches. Officers have easier access to congested areas than officers in motor vehicles and cover a larger area than officers on foot. Bicycles offer an effective approach to crime surveillance due to their decreased visibility.
Community and public relations have been improved through the use of bicycles; the improved public interaction has helped improve officer morale, as well as decreased sick-time, while increasing productivity. In some situations, bicycle patrols have proven to be more cost-effective than motor vehicles.
Bicycle Patrol Duties:
▪ Patrol support
▪ Response to calls for service
▪ Gang suppression
▪ Narcotics enforcement
▪ Traffic enforcement
▪ Community policing
▪ Special details
▪ Bicycle safety education
▪ Special events
▪ Undercover surveillance.
Bicycles provide tremendous air quality and public health benefits. Under the Bike Patrols for Clean Air Grant, it is anticipated that the use of bicycles in patrol applications will generate a reduction of over 1.5 million vehicle miles traveled. In most instances, the bicycles replace motor vehicles for patrol up to eight hours per day or longer. For example, the LAPD average vehicle mileage is 18,000 miles/year. Two bicycles replace one motor vehicle, and 85 bicycles replace 42.5 vehicles. The estimated number of vehicle miles traveled is reduced by 1,035,000 (as estimated by the SCAQMD).