History

How it all began

In 1890, the first Humber safety bicycle came on the market. This bicycle was a major improvement on the existing tricycles and velocipedes. The safety bicycle was the first to have a low frame and two equal sized wheels.
With the invention in 1888, of the pneumatic tyre the bicycle became a real means of transport.


 

Constables in The Hague, NL
 Constable

Bicycle Brigade

Around 1900 the Police Force started to show interest in the use of the bicycle.
Most of the rural area Police Forces had several villages and hamlets under their jurisdiction, which they had to visit regularly.
The bicycle was more effective in achieving this than the beat patrol on foot.
In The Hague, all surveillance was, at that time, done on foot. The Officer patrolled his beat in his district, along a fixed route, with fixed control points. Citizens set their clocks on time and sent the children to school, because they knew exactly which time it was when the Officer passed.
Then, each police station was provided with two bicycles for bike patrol duties. These were ridden by nominated bicycle Officers. The position of bicycle Officer was only available to the experienced Officers.
The supplier, the firm Fongers, had there own bicycle school on the Spui in the city center. Potential new bicycle Officers were trained there for their task. In this day and age this seems ridiculous because everyone can cycle but, at that time, cycling was not so common. Only a small percentage of the population understood the art of cycling.
Later the bicycle became a normal way of transport, so each Officer was given his own bicycle. The higher ranks preferred to go on horseback.
In the years between the two world wars, it was a common sight to see the members of the bicycle brigade in action. As well as ordinary bicycles many Police Departments had special carrier cycles for the transport of patients, wounded and bodies.

Loosduinse veldwachters 1920 

 

After the Second World War, the car became a more readily available form of transport. This was also the case for the Police. When radio equipment became available, the Police bicycle started to disappear from the streets.
Somewhere around the end of the 1970’s a new type of bicycle started to appear in the hills of California - the “All Terrain Bike”. This bicycle had a heavy frame and heavy tyres.
Today, the weight of the mountain bike is a third of the early mountain bikes and they are fitted with suspension.
In 1987, a Police Officer from Seattle, USA was frustrated by all traffic jams in the city so, he came up with the proposal for using the mountain bike as a patrol tool. Seattle is the number one bicycle city in America and his plan was adopted rapidly. Research had shown that the Police Force had grown distant from the public. This led to the development of Community Policing.
Experience has shown that the best way to reestablish contact between Police and the public is the use of Bike Patrol.

In 1993, a sergeant of Police Department Rotterdam-Rijnmond started the so-called prof-team (PROF: Police Rijnmond on the bicycle).
This team of four Officers functioned very well.
It should be noted that this PROF team proved to be the cradle of what we in the Netherlands call the "Bike patrol.” In the light of what was then a new Community Policing style of operating, some Chiefs decided that there was no more room for the PROF team. History shows that they soon realized their big mistake!

The PROF Team 

In 1999, Officers in the Netherlands again got the idea for a bike patrol. A Chief of Police department Hollands-Midden, on a working visit to Philadelphia saw bike patrols in action on the streets. At the same time, a Community Officer in the City centre of Arnhem wondered how he could move more rapidly in the pedestrian area. Bike Patrol provided the answer and a team was developed.

These initiatives were rapidly recognized as effective and now, most Police Departments have bike patrols on there streets.

 The modern crime busters

 


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