If you’ve had a bicycle stolen in the Loves Park area in the last two years– police may have it. Wednesday, the department announced it had recovered ten bikes. Residents are welcomed to claim them, unclaimed bikes will be given to Rockford’s Rollin’ Strong program.
“We get calls all the time,” said Rockford Police Officer Charles Keen. “People donating bikes, some want to come and help. But this was the first police department.”
Keen is a community services officer for Rockford Police, he says he received a call from Loves Park about it’s bike situation.
“They asked if we were interested, I said we’d always take bikes,” said Keen. “We can use them, if not for parts, if they’re really decent, we can get kids to work on them.”
Rollin’ Strong uses bike repair to engages kids between 11 and 14 years old. The mission is to keep kids out of trouble and develop relationships with police officers they felt they couldn’t trust before.
“Our first class we ever had, those four boys, they were cranking out three or four bikes a class. They were truly enjoying it. This last class, we had two girls for the first time and they were working on the bikes better than the boys.”
Officer Keen says the program has ridden on group effort. He adds Loves Park Police involvement will only solidify the program’s success.
“I think like our department, other departments around, we want to reach kids. We want to have an impact in their life,” said Keen. “There’s so many entities working, trying to make things come together, trying to help kids.”
Officer Keen tells me he hopes one day, their current students can come back and be mentors for future participants.
The program is in need of bicycle repair racks and tools.