Violent crime statistics are trending in the right direction for Beloit, which police are attributing to a unique way their officers are patrolling the city.
“Everything with the successes that we’ve had are because of that, and it’s really a team effort between the police department and the community,” said Beloit Chief of Police, David Zibolski.
The city had three shootings in 2018, but all three suspects have been arrested. That makes violent crime down 57 percent from 2016.
Captain Thomas Stigler credits the crime decline on the police department’s bicycle officers, which were established last summer.
On Halloween, bicycle officers were able to find a missing child even before the mother knew the child was gone.
“Before anyone even called it in, the officers talked to the mother, they radioed it out, and bicycle officers found the child a few blocks away,” said Stigler.
Captain Stigler says the success is due to the bicycle officers being more approachable and easy to flag down.
Officers have been able to stop some crimes in progress because bicycles, unlike squad cars, don’t give away their position.
“Because they’re able to ride around a neighborhood, people just don’t recognize them as police until they’re upon them,” Stigler said.
The new bicycle officers aren’t the only new program Beloit Police started in 2018: Place of Last Drink, or P.O.L.D, is a program where officers are keeping track of where drivers have been drinking, after getting OWIs.
The new program is still in a data-collecting phase but could help the community be more safe in the long run.
“With that information, if we see an uptick in the number of establishments that are over serving, or a lot of people are getting arrested for OWI coming from those establilshments, the Rock County Health Department will go out there and will educate them as how not to over serve,” said Patrol Lieutenant David Elrod.
The Place of Last Drink data will be ready some time this summer, and Rock County and four other Wisconsin counties are participating.