BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) - Benton police officers are ready to roll once again as the bike patrol program returns to the city. It's been 12 years since officers last patrolled in the city on two wheels. But this summer they'll be out and about, patrolling and keeping an eye on the kids.
"Now it feels like we have more of a purpose," said Sargent Lisa Stuart with Benton Police Department.
Stuart, and Officers Quinton Jackson and Bobby Shell typically spend their days on school campuses, connecting with kids as School Resource Officers.
"We brainstormed and thought what better way to get in touch with our kids than to get out on the bike and go where they go during the summer and get in the neighborhoods and get in the parks," said Sgt. Stuart.
Sporting a sunny yellow uniform, and a smooth tire with a tough grip, the officers have geared up for quite the variety of terrain. No schedule, no map, no plans - just intuition.
"We're going to hit the parks where the kids are, we're going to get into the neighborhoods, if they're playing in their yard, we might get out and play with them. We're going to ride down business districts, we'll do some radar."
In other words, anything they do on a regular basis, they'll do on the bike. The return of the program also marks the start of new initiative called #KidsFirst. The goal is to build trust between police and the youth in their community.
"There is so much negativity with police officers and the public now, we want to get out there and break that," said Sgt. Stuart. "We want to show the public that we are their friends, we are there to help them, we are there to be a positive role model and we're not there to bring negativity."
After 19 years on the force, Sgt. Stuart has seen the bike program come and go. Its return is her chance to bond with her fellow officers and make a difference at the same time.
"I think it's changing for the better because as we're doing this, we're laughing a lot more, we're having a good time, we're trusting each other, we've got to have each other's backs on the bikes to keep each other safe," said Sgt. Stuart. "It's just more of a teach building exercise for us and we're just having a ball."
The officers plan to ride all throughout the summer until school starts in the fall. For more information, you can follow the hashtag #KidsFirst on Twitter.