A late-winter conversation at Walmart between a Phoenix police officer and a manufactured home park owner’s association president has led to a bike patrol for the city of Phoenix.

Bear Lake Estates’ Jim Collum Sr. mentioned to Lt. Jeff Price that his group hadn’t done much for the police department lately, although they had assisted financially with a K-9 unit and other endeavors in past years. That’s when Price told him about his wish for a bike patrol for the city and the Bear Creek Greenway section that runs through it.

The association launched a fundraising drive for patrol equipment, the Bear Lake Social Committee held a fundraising breakfast, and the park's owner, IPG of Irvine, California, gave money to purchase two bikes after a request from park managers. The combined efforts raised $2,300, including $1,260 for the bike purchases and cash for officer clothing and gear. The association drive raised $700.

“It took just about six weeks. We didn’t know if we would be able to do it, but it was worth a try,” said McCollum. “It’s good for everyone who uses the Greenway, not just for Phoenix.”

Bike patrols will be done at night and during the day. Price anticipates they will cover all areas of town and the Greenway, from as far as U.S. Cellular Community Park fields to the north and Talent city limits to the south.

“As long as I’m not having blizzard conditions or super, super cold weather, I’d like to see them year around,” said Price. “Obviously, we will cut back during inclement situations."

Bikes will be used initially by reserve officers, but regular officers likely will ride once the department is at full strength, said Price. Two new officers recently completed police academy studies and field training, and the department has one remaining full-time vacancy to fill.

“The idea is ... there are certain places I want to check on each patrol and certain hot spots, then they are pretty much free to roam,” said Price. Should an area experience a number of car break-ins, for example, he would direct officers to provide extra surveillance. The bikes add a stealth factor to such patrols, he said.

“In my research on bike patrols, what I found was the personal contact, whether enforcement or causal contact, rose substantially versus the officer in the car driving by with the windows up,” said Price.

IPG not only purchased the bikes but also bought the food used for the benefit breakfast.

“We put in a request that there was a need here,” said Bill Brittain, who co-manages the park with his wife, Mona. “They wanted to know what the cost of the bikes was.”

Force Perimeter bikes designed for police work were purchased. The bikes include bags for equipment, red and blue flashing lights and white lights for riding around. Bags will contain first-aid kits, paperwork needed for documentation and citations, a spare tube and a bike repair kit.

Officer gear purchased included helmets, shirts, convertible pants, riding gloves, Under Armour shoes and body cameras. Officers also will carry radios.

Ian Bagwell of Flywheel Bicycle Solutions in Talent assembled the bikes for the department at no cost.

— Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.