Beverly Hills PD Spokesman: We Don’t Have a Bike Bias

Photo: ## 2 High##
Photo: ## 2 High##

Earlier this week, in an article about the ongoing investigation of the death of a Hollywood publicist, a Beverly Hills Police Department spokesperson made a comment defending his department’s position that the murder was perpetuated by a man riding a bicycle.  The Times quotes Lt. Tony Lee as saying:

“I can tell you from personal experience that using a bicycle as a mode of transportation is extremely prevalent with criminals. You can’t copy a license plate; they get in and out of traffic; hide into the shadows of the night, through alleyways; and can dump the bike and can jump into a bus. It occurs all the time.”

Wait a second…did he just say that cyclists are likely to be criminals?  Ted Rogers, at Biking In L.A., thought so he commented that,

Maybe that’s why cops are so quick to cuff cyclists during traffic stops. If you assume — despite all evidence to the contrary — that the use of bikes in criminal activity is “extremely” widespread, it’s not a big jump to assume every cyclist is a potential criminal

I also chatted with personal injury attorney Howard Krepak, a cycling lawyer that’s crossed through Beverly Hills many times.  He commented that he generally has a good impression of the BHPD, but that this statement was troubling.  “In our experience, it’s far more likely to be the other way around.  That cyclists are attacked or harassed than cyclists acting as criminals.”  However, he insisted that I should talk to Lee himself as his statement sounded a little strange.  Perhaps it sounded better in context.

It’s a good thing I did.

“No. no. no. no. no. no. no,” said Lee when I reached him on his phone when I asked if he meant to imply that one was more likely to be a criminal.  “I’m a cyclist myself and that’s never something I would want people to think.”

He hadn’t yet read the Times article, but wondered about the context of the quote.  We also talked about injuries we both got while riding.  His broken bones are certainly worse than my scarred knees.  When I asked what his experience with cyclists and lawbreakers was, he did comment that, “A lot of people do use a bike as a getaway vehicle.  They’re light.  They’re fast.  They’re versatile.  And, they’re affordable.”

But what about cyclists not being criminals.  Is this a case of “many criminals choose to use bikes, but comparatively few cyclists are criminals.”

“Yes, that’s it.” he replied.

So in the case of “Did the Beverly Hills Police Lieutenant declare that cyclists are criminals?,” the answer is a maybe.  It might have been what was said, we don’t actually have a transcript of what he said to the Times, but it certainly wasn’t what he meant.

  • Will Campbell

    My overall and immensely biased opinion of the BHPD is that the department’s depiction in the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies isn’t that far off from reality. But having said that, I must cop to the one interaction I had with an officer while biking along Carmelita as being immensely positive. Not only did he not cuff me, but he let me off a warning for the infractions I committed.

  • Clearly the BHPD is a joke. Making such statements is biased and just plain stupid. No data exists on the subject so for all we know it can be based on one anecdotal experience or none at all.

    Just because a bike is inexpensive, light and does not have a license plate does not mean it is a good tool for committing crime.

    What about skateboards, scooters, roller blades or good old fashioned jogging.

    I think the BHPD needs to stick to putting bananas in tailpipes since that is the only thing they seem qualified to do.

  • Looks like the bias is in the reporting. LA Times is no friend of bicyclists.

  • @bzcat

    How could it be the LA times when Lee told SB ““A lot of people do use a bike as a getaway vehicle. They’re light. They’re fast. They’re versatile. And, they’re affordable.””

    If “a Lot” of criminals using Bikes outnumbers using cars than it would be relevant. Otherwise it is a stupid comment.

  • I think may have done the Lt. a disservice.

    It was clear from talking to him he doesn’t have bike bias. He was defending the department from charges that it was ridiculous to think that someone would use a bike to commit a robbery. Whether you agree with the BHPD’s assesment on this case, I think it’s hard to argue that it’s ridiculous to assume that crimes aren’t committed at all by cyclists.

    If that’s not clear in my article, that should be on me. Not him.

    Throughout our talk, he used terms such as “a lot” a lot. Do people use cars to commit crimes “a lot.” Yup. Do they run/walk away from crimes “a lot.” Yup again.

  • Spokker

    Clearly it should be illegal to commit a crime with a bicycle…

  • Statsdude

    Am risking a flame war, but…
    When one is faced with stereotypes, bias and other social indignities on a daily basis, it can be easy to interpret bias in a poorly worded comment when there may be none.

    That doesn’t mean the commenter shouldn’t be called out for the comment, at least for clarification. Otherwise, the unintended bias prevails. Damien did a good job with that.

  • Mihai

    If you ride a bike (in Los Angeles), you’re either poor, a criminal, or a questionable non-conformist.

    Will Campbell’s comment is brimming with sarcasm.

  • Spokker

    Stereotypes are certainly based on truth, however anecdotal it may be. I always thought bigotry was not when you stereotype people, but when you deny some stereotypes (primarily stereotypes about people like you) and not others (people you don’t like).

    I’m fine with someone saying that bike riders are criminals or non-conformist or that all bus riders are poor. But let’s be honest about how all drivers are psychopathic killing machines without even knowing it.


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