Abandoned bicycles serve good purpose for new lives

Abandoned bicycles serve good purpose for new lives
Jeff Feldman, Thomas Norton, Sergeant Dennis Pellot (back), Billy Megill, Leigh Johnson, Kevin Kuzel (back), Chief Larry Gayle, Officers Pat Meyer and Jason Mosley.

Officers in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s Zone 4 Walking Beat know firsthand crime often occurs when someone lacks gainful employment. They also know getting and keeping a job depends on having reliable transportation to a bus stop or to the workplace. If you don’t have a car, a bicycle can be the next best thing.

Earlier this year, Zone 4 officers, under the command of Chief Larry Gayle, put into place a bicycle deployment program to help reduce bicycle thefts in Riverside. While the outcome was very successful – bike thefts were reduced by 50 percent and they recovered 20 percent of the 75 bicycles stolen over a four-month period – the added bonus was community outreach to men who need transportation the most.

On May 6, beat officers Patrick Meyer and Jason Mosley were joined by Gayle and Sergeant Dennis Pellot at Riverside Tradition House, 2911 Riverside Ave., to present to residents at the house three bicycles used in the program.

“This is a proactive approach of the Walking Beat unit to establish our community focused partnership,” said Pellot in an email to Paul Bremer, of the Riverside Avondale Neighborhood Watch group. “Jason [Mosley] and Patrick [Meyer] have gotten permission from the Sheriff to make these donations a regular event to people in need in this area.”

Officer Meyer explained the bicycles used in the deployment were found items, but were not able to be traced back to the owners. After the deployment was completed, he and Officer Mosley were given the option of donating them or destroying them. Meyer, who repaired and cleaned the bicycles, said the bikes were too expensive to throw away.

“We made contact with Leigh Johnson, manager at Tradition House, which is set up for people with alcohol or substance abuse who are trying to re-integrate into society,” said Meyer. “You have to have a job and a lot of them don’t have a license and could put the bikes to good use.”

“This will be helpful for residents to get around,” said Johnson, who noted the residents of Tradition House have always had good relations with the force and don’t cause trouble in the community. “If they have driver’s licenses they may not have a vehicle. Having access to some wheels will be very helpful.”

Meyer and Mosley hope to continue the bicycle deployment and the gifting of the used bicycles to Tradition House or other charities.

“We’re constantly looking for the ability to connect with our community, especially the Riverside area. We feel a close connection. I went to Riverside Presbyterian Day School” said Gayle. “I found out Tradition House is an outreach of Riverside Presbyterian, so being able to help my alma mater and doing something like this for the community, by helping guys get on the right track, means a lot.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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