FRANKLIN COUNTY — After purchasing two electric bikes, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputies have a new chance to get in the saddle.
Capt. John Grismore announced the purchase of the two bikes Tuesday.
“The acquisition of these bikes will help the office continue our mission of developing and maintaining strong relationships in the communities we serve while doing our part to be environmentally conscious,” Grismore stated in a press release.
Starting out, the law enforcement agency will be using the electric bikes primarily for special events. The first electric bike was rolled out during St. Albans Bay Day, and the second will be ready for its test run during Franklin County Field Days.
There’s potential, however, to expand how officers’ use the bikes down the line. In the future, Grismore told the Messenger e-bikes can access areas that a cruiser can’t go, like along the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail, or they can be used in high service areas that bikes can more easily access.
For example, Grismore said he could see e-bikes being used on the northern end of St. Albans in commercial areas such as by Walmart or Hannaford. They might also be utilized in the downtowns of Enosburg Falls or Richford.
Potential benefits would include cutting down on the expenses needed to run and maintain a typical cruiser while also allowing officers to be closer to the public while on patrol. By getting deputies out of the cruiser, Grismore said the bikes can help foster new community interactions.
The electric-bikes, however, won’t be able to replace a typical cruiser. While the bikes come with lights and sirens, the sheriff’s office can still call in a cruiser in case of an arrest or similar situation requiring transport.
“You can’t take somebody into custody on a bike,” Grismore said. “It’s not designed to replace, but to supplement.”
The cost of each bike was $4,800, which was covered by multiple local businesses.
The idea to purchase the bikes was initially pushed forward by Dep. Greg Jones, and Grismore said Jones went around to find businesses willing to help with the new program. The complete list of businesses can be found below.
“The tremendous outpouring that we got from businesses blew us away,” Grismore said. “We’re humbled by that.”
If the e-bike program is successful, he could see other police departments in the area seeking the same benefits the bikes can provide officers.
When asked if the St. Albans Police Department had considered a bicycle patrol program, Chief Maurice Lamothe said the department had discussed the issue.
“We do not currently have a bike patrol unit,” Lamothe said by email. “It is something we have considered and given the right combination of staffing and personnel we may get there in the future.”
Participating businesses who gave to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office e-bike program include:
St. Albans Glass
Community National Bank
People’s Trust Company
Vermont Federal Credit Union
The Abbey Group
Mill River Brewing BBQ & Smokehouse