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Out of patrol cars and onto a bike, Lake Stevens Police hope new approach will open up dialogue

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LAKE STEVENS, Wash. -- At first glance, you may not realize it's a police officer.

“Most people don’t see cops in shorts,” officer Chad Wells said.

It's not what residents in Lake Stevens are used to and that's the point.

“So people feel more comfortable to come out and talk to us,” Wells said.

Getting out of his patrol car and onto a bike may mean Wells is more exposed to the dangerous elements of his job. He says it’s worth it for the one-on-one time with people in his community.

“You tell things to people that you like and trust, that’s the big thing behind this so we can go out there and figure out what’s going on in the community,” Wells said.

Along the way, Wells may meet residents like Michael Hamel, who says he's lost thousands of dollars to property crime.

“Caught my neighbor’s car ... getting stolen, my son's car got carjacked; I had somebody try to break into my car,” Hamel said.

Like many other cities, Lake Stevens is dealing with an uptick in property crime.  The latest numbers show a 27% increase.

Lake Stevens Police say in the past six months of 2015 there were 135 cases of property crime compared to 172 cases so far this year.

“In the last few years we’ve seen problems with meth and drug addiction,” Hamel said.

Hamel added that the bike cops give him hope

“I grew up when you had neighborhood cops on the beat and I think it's really, really key; it’s going to make a big difference,” Hamel said.

That's why  Wells volunteered to try this new approach to fighting crime; he said the more faces he gets to know, the safer Lake Stevens will be.

It cost the city about $10,000 to pay for all the equipment and training to start the bike program.

Three bike cops hit the streets last week and they hope to expand the program in the future.


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