KENNEWICK, WA - Water Follies is one of just two times a year that Kennewick Police get to pull out their bicycles. That is important because it offers a lot more mobility and a better viewpoint on just about everything going on in Columbia Park.
"A lot different than being in a car or on a motorcycle. We have a lot more access to different areas of the park. We can go places with greater mobility and we interact with people a lot more closely," said Officer Lee Cooper with Kennewick Police.
Getting that closer contact can mean all the difference in catching criminal activity when it is happening.
"One of the things that we do a lot of is ride along and we'll smell people smoking marijuana. You wouldn't catch that from a car or motorcycle. That's pretty common unfortunately in the park. It's still illegal in public," said Cooper.
"We try and be very spread out throughout the park. Very mobile throughout the park. Again, that high visibility is a deterrent for possible criminal activity," said Sergeant Ken Lattin, also with Kennewick Police.
A couple dozen officers will be working Water Follies over the weekend. Kennewick Police get a little help from their friends at the Benton County Sheriff's Office, West Richland Police Department and the Yakima Police Department. You won't see them solely on bicycles, though.
"We use the parks department mule vehicles, we have ATV's from Benton Bounty and then we have officers on motorcycles as well. so anything that's very mobile, agile, can get through the park in the grass, whatever.. We use those specialized vehicles," said Lattin.
"When the crowd really gets thick you can't get through there on a four wheeler or in a car or on a motorcycle. But the bicycle, we can really snake through the crowd and through the parked cars and respond very quickly end efficiently to areas that we need to get to," said Cooper.
The bicycles that Kennewick Police use have high end titanium frames that cost upwards of a thousand dollars. They were all donated by Ti-Lite who also outfitted a number of other emergency agencies like the local fire departments. They'll also be out on two wheels this Water Follies weekend.