Eclipse Police

A Casper police officer steps into a mobile law enforcement communications center set up Thursday at the corner of Midwest Avenue and David Street. Officers will be patrolling on foot and on bikes during the congested eclipse festival.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

The festivities surrounding the solar eclipse are bringing police bike patrols to the streets of Casper. And don’t expect them to disappear when the sun returns.

Casper Police Sgt. Ben Mattila leads the bike patrol, which will be riding around town through Monday, in an attempt to increase police presence this weekend as the eclipse attracts thousands of visitors. With Second Street scheduled to close for the Wyoming Eclipse Festival, Mattila said responding to downtown incidents should be easier via bike.

The bike patrol attended Wednesday night’s dedication of the Davis Street Station. On Thursday, officers began riding early in the afternoon and were planning on being on their bikes into the evening. Over the course of the festival, bike officers will patrol all across town, from hotels to the Eastridge Mall to the Tate Pumphouse. Mattila said the patrol will “hit every single event we can.”

Police plan to continue using bike patrols after the eclipse festivities. Bicycles will help police response times, Mattila said. And because officers can put bikes on the back of their vehicles, if police have to go somewhere a car can’t – like the bike trail – they can take their bikes rather than walking or running, Det. John Hatcher said.

In addition to improving response times, Hatcher said he hopes the bike patrols will make drivers more aware of all cyclists, improving safety for cyclists riding around town.

The department has eight officers certified to work from bicycles and six bikes available to them, Mattila said.

Officers should be getting new bike uniforms that make it easier to transition between bike and car, he added.

Police officers will also perform foot patrols downtown this weekend to check on bars, Hatcher said.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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