NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — News 8 got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a major effort by New Haven Police Department (NHPD) to combat the rise in crime in the city Monday: stepped up bike patrols.
“How are you?” called out a Newhallville resident to a NHPD officer biking by. “Be safe.”
“Thank you. You, too,” replied Officer Jacob Wright as he biked past.
Wright and his partner, Officer Bryan Phillips bike these neighborhood streets nearly every day.
“In my heart, the most I can do is help people and the best way I can. My function is talking to people and relating to people,” said Wright.
It’s a tool that’s not on his belt like his baton or taser—instead, it’s honed on the back of his bike.
The partners are part of the increased patrols the department is deploying to fight street crime, which has risen to levels not seen in more than a decade. Murders were up more than 250% at the start of June, compared to this time last year.
“A lot of calls we go to, people are having a bad day, to sum it up simply. Versus this, where you could be driving by and someone’s having a great day. They say ‘what’s up what’s going on?’ All good,” said Officer Phillips, “There are large problems, and this is one step towards [solving them].”
“Problems usually require multiple answers, and this is one of them.”
“These guys are going to be here for the next 20 years. And these young kids will watch them as they grow up,” said District Manager Lt. Manmeet Colon.
Lt. Colon says the bike patrols offer another major crime fighting tool too–tips.
“It’s not easy to live in a community and talk to the police in front of everyone,” she said, “The only way we’ll get that kind of cooperation is if they have a good relationship with the police and they trust us.”
A friendly presence, and a steady one, too. Neighbor Elijah says he has noticed that the more bikes there are, the fewer bad guys.
“I believe it’s a beautiful thing,” he said, “Long as you see more bikes out it keeps them away.”