Sarasota Police Department increases presence with new initiative

Chief says residents will see police on foot, bikes and ATVs around the city

Sarasota Police Department increases presence with new initiative
Sarasota Police Officers train on ATV's at Lido Beach (Source: WWSB)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Training on ATVs Wednesday, Sarasota Police Department’s Community Action Team, or “CAT” is getting officers out of their cars and closer to the public.

On foot, on bikes and ATVs, their goal is to increase community policing.

“I think it is a deterrent against crime, as well as a positive effect on the community, when they see us and we’re out here walking with them and talking with them,” says Officer Adam Bearden.

It’s something the new chief of police, Jim Rieser, has talked about. Although it’s something the city has done before, they’re taking it a step farther to ensure officers are being seen. Residents get an extra sense of security, and certain crimes are stopped in their tracks.

“Well, obviously, when you’re out of the car and on a bicycle you have super easy access to people right away. If there is a crime occurring, such as an open-air drug market, people selling drugs, aggressive panhandling ... they’re able to make contact quickly. They don’t have to stop the car, park the car get out of the car, they’re able to get right up close to anyone really quickly,” Rieser said.

And with spring break in full swing and the summer beach season right around the corner, officers on the ‘CAT’ team say it’s about more than busting the bad guys.

“Familiarity of faces is important, so you see the same officers and the more you see them, the more you get to know them and you feel like they are a part of your community, and that we do care and have a vested interest,” says Bearden.

“People feel safe when they see police. That’s the main thing here, I want people to feel as safe as they can,” said Chief Rieser.

Including as these officers train on new vehicles, to be able to handle them in any situation.

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