Greenwich Police Bicycle Unit: Offering a Nimble Response and Directing Traffic During Peak Times

Greenwich Police officers in aqua blue and black uniform jackets have become a steady presence on their e-bicycles on Greenwich Avenue, and Captain Mark Zuccerella said the department has been very pleased with the results.

Officer Nick Carl on duty on his e-bike on Greenwich Ave. Jan 22, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager

“The bike units help augment the patrol officer on duty in Car Post 45,” Zuccerella said, adding that it takes much more time for an officer in a patrol car to drive around the block than one on an e-bicycle.

“The bicycle officers basically do the same job a police officer would do, but they are on a bike,” Zuccerella explained.

The controversy over where limited police resources should be focused raged at the Jan 19, 2021 RTM meeting.

Some argued that officers directing traffic on Greenwich Avenue added more value than the combination of the bicycle unit and plainclothes officers with the Organized Retail Criminal Activity (ORCA) unit who work to address theft and financial crime on the Avenue.

Several longtime Greenwich residents, including Ed Dadakis and former First Selectman Peter Tesei, spoke in favor of restoring officers to regular shifts directing traffic, which had been the practice for 94 years.

Chief Heavey said there were no fewer officers on Greenwich Ave today than when cops were assigned to traffic posts.

Officer Carl bicycling down Greenwich Ave toward the intersection of Arch Street and Havemeyer. Photo: Leslie Yager

Instead, he said they are simply deployed differently.

Captain Zuccerella said members of the bicycle unit received special training in how to operate the sophisticated e-bikes, and that between the ORCA unit and bicycle police, there are typically 5 or 6 officers on the street in the central business district.

The e-bicycles are not gas powered; they have motors that recharge, and can achieve speeds of up to 30-40 miles per hour.

“Officers can pedal, use pedal assist or zoom around,” Zuccerella said. “They normally save that for quick response. The tires are big for stability and the bikes can go off road.”

Moreover, Zuccerella said the bicycle officers continue to direct traffic during peak traffic times.

“They jump in and direct traffic,” he explained. “We do traffic studies to find out when and where traffic is busiest. Arch Street and Havemeyer is the busiest intersection and the guys know that. In the morning, it’s the busiest. They’re staggered throughout the day, directing traffic when it needs to be done.”

“The ORCA officers focus on the crimes happening and organized retail theft. The bike officers are both traffic enforcers and community police officers.”

Greenwich Police Captain Mark Zuccerella

Zuccerella said that when officers were directing traffic on Greenwich Ave all day, they were stuck in their corners.

“Bicycle police can respond to the bottom of the Ave quickly,” he added said. “We have found the delivery of services is better when the officers are mobile. Especially if someone calls for a medical emergency.”

Beyond that, Captain Zuccerella said Greenwich Avenue was the biggest source of calls for service.

“There are a lot of shops that call with regards to theft,” he said.” The officers directing traffic had to radio in anything they saw. They’d have to run unless it was in the immediate area, but most of the time they couldn’t leave and had to radio in the call for help.”

“The officers are not on the corner stagnant for 8 hours, but traffic is flowing. They’re doing everything the officer in the circle is doing but they’re mobile and can respond to calls for service.”

See also:

Priorities for Police Presence on Greenwich Avenue Debated at RTM

Jan 20, 2021