martes, 14 de noviembre de 2017

What are the Bicycle Cops Good For?

Bogotá's bicycle cops are back, after several years' absence. But one has to wonder why.

Bike cops frisking someone near Independence Park.
Bike cops have lots of advantage: they can move fast, to chase down bad guys, range over wide parts of the city, and quickly reach places like alleys and narrow streets where, driving or on foot, they might not be able to get to at all.

But Bogotá's bike cops don't actually seem to exploit these advantages. I see them roaming just a few central Bogotá streets, usually eating, chatting amongst themselves, or tirelessly pursuing bad guys in their smartphones. About the only arguably useful law enforcement I've seen them do is clearing poor street vendors off of the sidewalks - a task done equally well on foot.

But why pick on the cycling cops? Whether on foot, in cars or in helicopters, they don't seem motivated to do much except search young people for drugs, in the hopes of squeezing out a bribe.

Bike cops pedaling down
Ave. Septima.
I wish I weren't so cynical. But a few months ago, foreigner who lives here and has a nearby business was walking along in the evening when a drunk kid stabbed him several times in the back. He almost dies from the blood loss, spent mmore than a month in the hospital, lost a part of a kidney and is still slowly recovering. Do you think the police care? More than two months later, they still haven't interviewed the witness and told the victim's son to track down the relevant videos.

A few weeks before that attack, a Colombian acquaintance got stabbed in the hand during a mugging attempt. Since he filed the initial report, the police have done no follow-up to try to, say, identify the assailant.

How many more people have these guys since stabbed and robbed, because the cops just don't care?

This afternoon, with this on my mind, I passed a group of a half-dozen bike cops doing their usual thing, enjoying coffee on a side street. When I stopped to take photos, they detained and frisked me and made me erase the pictures 'because they were a security threat.' Or, perhaps they were embarrased?

'Move on', 'move on.' Bike cops clearing out street vendors.
In front of the San Francisco Church, in La Candelaria.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

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