Image credit: Graham Richardson under Creative Commons license
Whether it's a fully painted police tractor complete with blue light, or a battery-powered electric police scooter, the British police are no strangers to trying out alternatives when it comes to transportation. Now budget cuts are forcing police officers in one UK town to get familiar with their bus timetables if they want to get around and do their jobs. While the first reaction from many—on the US-side of the pond at least—may be ridicule to the idea that police should use buses routinely to answer calls, the idea is not as daft as it may first seem. In fact, the move in my childhood home town of Clevedon to cut the number of vehicles available to Police community support officers (PCSOs) and instead ask them to use the buses may in fact be a blessing in disguise. As Chief Inspector Paul Richard told website Clevedon People, the use of alternative modes of transportation actually helps officers to stay in touch with the communities they protect:
"We encourage our PCSOs and neighbourhood teams to use all forms of transport, and have done so for many years - including taking a bus, cycling and walking. It allows officers to get out in the community and be as visible as possible to local residents."
It should be noted that PCSOs are not emergency responders, and largely play a supportive role to fully fledged police officers—guarding crime scenes, dealing with minor offenses, and providing visible patrols as a deterrent to crime. Just as bicycle-based policing is ideal in certain circumstances, but hardly suited for catching speeding motorists, so too bus-based policing may have a useful role to play. And if it saves money in the process, who's complaining?
More on Police and Alternative Transportation
Is Police Tractor the Way to Fight Farm Theft?
Police Test Vectrix Scooters
Is 10-Hour Cycling Course for Cops a Waste of Money?