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Rolling around with Fulton PD

Rolling around with Fulton PD

June 15th, 2017 by Connor Pearson in Local News

Fulton Sun reporter Connor Pearson, left, joins Fulton Police Department Officers Lucas Bell and A.J. Kramer during their bike patrol Wednesday afternoon.

Photo by Jenny Gray /Fulton Sun.

I met officers Lucas Bell and A.J. Kramer by the covered bridge in Memorial Park.

They are two of four officers at the Fulton Police Department who have undergone the training necessary to be bike officers. Every year, as summer gets underway, the FPD begins to patrol the trails and roads-less-traveled of Fulton.

The officers and I exchanged pleasantries, waited for my editor to snap a photo and chatted about our bikes.

We took the required photograph while a shirtless man wandered around behind us on the bridge. I couldn't think of a convenient excuses to get me out of the ride, so we mounted up and started down the Stinson Creek Trail.

After about a minute of riding, I started to get more confident. The officers were riding slowly, probably for my sake, and I appreciated the opportunity to warm up my leg muscles.

As we rode around, Kramer explained why the FPD sends out bike patrols.

"There are a lot of areas around Fulton that you can't see when you are in a patrol car," he said. "This really lets you get in the nooks and crannies of the town, and you get to meet a lot of people who are out and about."

The two officers tool around on bikes because it helps with policing. People tend to be more relaxed, more talkative and friendlier with officers when they are out of their cars.

We bounced off the trail and started weaving in and out of different housing developments. The bikes allowed the officers to cruise down sidewalks, go off-road into grassy areas and explore places most people just drive by.

Just because the officers were on bikes, they were no less effective at doing their jobs. While roaming around a group of houses, we came across a pickup truck parked in the grass behind a house, hidden from the view of the road.

"When you see something like that, it usually pays to check it out," Kramer said.

Bell called dispatch and inquired about warrants on the vehicle or its owner. After a knock on the back door, the vehicle's owner emerged. It was just a handy man. False alarm.

Getting back on our way, it became clear to me this was no pleasure cruise. These guys had a job to do.

Now, I have taken walks around Fulton, but as we crossed over into the east side of the city, zooming through a tunnel under U.S. Business 54, I started to see areas and landscapes I had never seen before.

"The first time I did a night patrol on my bike, we found some people smoking pot in this tunnel about two minutes into the ride," Kramer said. "People think they are hidden if they can't see the road, and we just kind of sneak up on them."

We rode over to what looked like an industrial area no longer in use. We went down a mowed trail to the start of a hidden bike path. It proved to me even more that I have not spent enough time exploring the town.

"You ready to head back," Kramer asked.

I was definitely ready.

We meandered back to Memorial Park. We reached the park's covered bridge, and Bell and I took a breather.

"I like these bike patrols," he said. "We get to ask people how their day is going and be friendly. They get to see the police being out and about."

Bell said the bike patrols will be most visible during this weekend's street fair, along with officers on foot.

"We try and maintain a certain officer to pedestrian ratio," he said. "It lets us respond quickly. In three years, we haven't had an incident during the fair, but we like to say that if someone needs us, they can look up and see an officer."

As I closed my notebook and picked up my camera, the two officers mounted back up, riding off again to keep the streets, trails and creeks of Fulton safe.