There are big changes under way in the way the LAPD deals with the bicycling community.
In a meeting last Thursday with departmental representatives and civilian members of the department’s Bike Task Force, as well a handful of other bike advocates/activists, former bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer and Operations Commander Matt Blake laid out the new program.
It was nearly three years ago that Sgt. Krumer was appointed to represent the LAPD in dealing with the L.A. bicycling community, at a time when relations were at a low point. Since then, his efforts, and that of the three Commanders he worked under, have lead to a turnaround that has helped make the LAPD the envy of cyclists around the nation.
Although it’s clearly far from perfect yet.
Now that Krumer has been transferred to the Devonshire Division — a lateral move that Streetsblog’s Damien Newton describes as a de facto (and I might add, well-deserved) promotion — he will not be replaced as the single point-man for cyclists who need help in dealing with the department.
Instead, four new bike liaisons have been selected, one for each of the four Traffic Divisions within the city. Each will have responsibility for issues that arise within their own division — and won’t deal with anything that occurs outside their jurisdiction.
For instance, if you have problem with an officer in the Central Traffic Division, the liaison from South Traffic won’t be able to help you, though they can refer you to someone who will.
Or as one officer put it during the meeting, the dividing line between the Valley and West Traffic Divisions runs right down the middle of Mulholland. So if you have a wreck there and would prefer to work with one division over the other, make sure you land on the right side of the road.
And the program is still in the process of being settled, as evidenced by the fact that two of the four liaisons are different from the officers named by the LADOT Bike Blog just a week earlier.
The new bike liaisons are:
- Central Traffic Division: Sgt. Laszlo Sandor firstname.lastname@example.org 213-972-1853
- Valley Traffic Division: Sgt. Steve Egan email@example.com 818-644-8146
- West Traffic Division: Sgt. Christopher Kunz firstname.lastname@example.org 213-473-0215
- South Traffic Division: Sgt. Jon Aufdemberg email@example.com 213-421-2588
You’d be wise to save their contact information. And program those phone numbers into the phone you carry when you ride.
All four have received bike patrol training, and are experienced traffic collision investigators. So they understand bicycling, and get that bikes — and bike riders — respond differently from motor vehicles in a crash.
As Cdr. Blake stated, though, the bike liaisons aren’t there to solve every problem you may have on your bike. If you object to the way you were treated by an officer, or how an incident was handled, you’re better off contacting the Watch Commander the officer works under — and doing it as quickly as possible following the incident, while there’s still time to do something about it.
The role of the four bike liaisons was defined by the department as:
- Meet regularly with community members to hear concerns
- Pass along concerns of the bicycling community to officers
- Clarify police methods to the bicycling community
- Conflict resolution between cyclists and motorists
- Safety programs, such as Bike to School
- Traffic stings at bike lanes and Bike Plan streets
- Report to Commander Blake on city-wide issues
Meanwhile, Officer Jeff Kievit, who worked with Sgt. Krumer as part of the bike liaison program, will continue to work with Cdr. Blake on larger bike policy issues for the central Office of Operations.
And the Bike Task Force — made up of Blake, Kievit and other officers, alonge with representatives of the cycling community ranging from the LACBC, Bikeside and the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee to Midnight Ridazz, Eastside Bike Club and Major Motion — will continue to meet on a quarterly basis for the foreseeable future.
If you know of any additional bicycling organizations that should be included, contact Officer Kievit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s still a lot of work to be done. And large areas of disagreement, such as the department’s policy on handcuffing cyclists who don’t pose a threat, and the use of force to stop riders who don’t follow police instructions to stop and dismount.
But we’re getting there.
It’s sometimes astounding to look back and consider just how far the department has come in dealing with the bicycling community, and how much attitudes towards the police have changed in just a few short years.
Hopefully, this new decentralized plan will continue to take us in the right direction, and provide even better responsiveness and service to L.A. cyclists and the larger community.