BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) - Drugs, prostitutes and property crimes, Bernalillo County has it's fair share of problems, but now Sheriff's Deputies have a new weapon to sneak up on those criminals and access some areas more easily.
It's a first for the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, a bike unit has four deputies so far. They've been patrolling the streets for just six days, but they say they're already taking down some violent criminals.
Criminals like Fred Mascaranas, 54, who was arrested Friday for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. "He took a seven inch knife against a clerk, and we were able to apprehend that person and take him to jail," said BCSO Deputy Matthew Wolke.
He explained deputies didn't use their normal tactics. Instead, they were armed with bicycles. "The advantage is we're not seen," Deputy Wolke said. "We're very quick to come up on people, and most importantly people don't expect Deputy Sheriff's to be on bicycles."
It's an element of surprise the team is using to their advantage. Deputies worked with the Under Sheriff to create the unit. The goal is to maximize resources by targeting crimes that are harder to get to.
"We had one gentleman, who's a local drug user here, who told us we were messing up his life because we had the drug dealers scared to come out here and sell to him," explained Deputy Wolke.
In less than a week the bike unit has responded to 31 calls, made two felony arrests, eight misdemeanor arrests and handed out 29 tickets. They say that twice as many call outs as a normal patrol unit is able to handle on a normal shift.
They also recovered a stolen iPhone and a gun. The team tallies about 20 miles a day on their bikes. They are fully armed and currently patrolling county land near the South Valley. It's a job they say deputies in actual cars can not serve as well.
"We go through all the ditch banks in the community and go behind peoples homes that never get patrolled by anybody," Deputy Wolke said.
Those serving on the bike unit must be certified and pass a special academy.
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