Officer Penna Back In The Saddle For Police Bicycle Patrol
As part of its community policing program, the police department has resumed its warm-weather bicycle patrols, with Officer Leonard Penna monitoring central sections of town while traveling on a mountain bike.
It is the seventh season that Officer Penna has handled his police patrol duties from the saddle of a specialized police bicycle.
Officer Penna, 38, joined the police department in December 2002. He served as the department’s school resource officer at Newtown Middle School for many years, before recently transferring to the agency’s patrol unit.
Police Administrative Sergeant Aaron Bahamonde said that the bicycle patrol will continue into the month of October.
Officer Penna said that using a bicycle allows police to quietly and unobtrusively patrol in areas where there are many pedestrians, such as the town center, Fairfield Hills, Dickinson Park, and various parking lots. Church Hill Road, Queen Street, Main Street, and South Main Street are among the patrol areas.
A specialized tread pattern on the bicycle’s tires allows it to be effectively used on pavement, as well as in wooded areas.
The bicycle patrol is especially effective for police mobility at events such as the Labor Day Parade, at which thousands of pedestrians gather, Officer Penna said.
Also, use of a bicycle allows police to effectively patrol areas such as the relatively isolated Fairfield Hills trail network, he said.
Sitting on the bike’s saddle or standing up on the bike’s pedals provides a police bicyclist with a high vantage point from which he can look down into motor vehicles to detect any illicit activity, Officer Penna said. Also, bicycles are quiet, allowing police to approach any suspicious activity with little notice, he said.
The bicycle is equipped with running lights, emergency lights, a siren, a first aid kit, and a police ticket book. Officer Penna carries a police sidearm and a portable two-way police radio. He wears a protective helmet and sunglasses.
His police bicyclist uniform bears the word “POLICE” in large white letters on the back of his black shirt for visibility by pedestrians and motorists.
Officer Penna is expected to spend about one-third of his work time patrolling on the bicycle. He otherwise will patrol in a marked police vehicle such as a sedan or a SUV.
A prime advantage of bicycle patrol work is that the bike allows police to monitor activity in relatively tight spaces which are inaccessible to conventional police patrol vehicles, Officer Penna said.
“It’s all about presence,” he added.