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Nisky police push pedals on patrol

Anonymous donor helps fund new bicycle unit

The Niskayuna Police Department unveiled one of its new, gleaming, black bicycles on Tuesday, June 29, to formally display the rides added to their patrol units. There are a total of three bikes, and officers are currently patrolling on them through the town.

Expenses were added in the department's 2010 budget request for two new bicycles and associated uniforms and equipment. When the initiative was announced earlier this year, a local longtime resident approached Chief of Police John Lubrant and offered to provide the funding for another bike patrol officer. That person has opted to remain anonymous.

[The donor] wanted to do something to support the community they lived in, said Lubrant. "They were critical in helping the program coming off the ground."

This is no small donation for one resident to offer either. One of the new Trek police bicycles costs $879, and the equipment for the officer costs roughly $800, according to Lubrant. The bikes were bought from Plaine's in Schenectady. Equipment for bike patrol officers includes a helmet, shirt, jacket, jersey and a nylon duty belt.

The Town Board was also very supportive in the bicycle patrol too, said Lubrant. About seven years ago, officers Alan Bell and John Serotta thought up the idea for the patrol, but it was never followed up on.

Lubrant said the timing was now right for the program.

"I'm happy to be able to do it now," said Lubrant. "It adds another dimension to our patrol capabilities opportunities to react with the public in a way patrol cars can't offer."

Every Niskayuna bicycle patrol officer undergoes a weeklong training program with the State University of New York at Albany Police Department. The training includes riding 10-25 miles a day, complex terrain situations and a firearms course.

Jim Walsh, Michael Walsh and Brian Connor are currently on bicycle patrol, but Lubrant said he hopes to add four more officers. These officers would share the three bicycles and patrol the Town Park, bike paths and other town areas.

"I like the idea of being out there for a little PR," said Jim Walsh.

In the town, Walsh said they would patrol around businesses, along with traveling to certain areas to address incidents that may occur. The police presence could be used to help deter criminal activity.""

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