Austin bike shop cancels contract with police
AUSTIN, Texas – A local bicycle store canceled its contract with the Austin Police Department.
An DPA officer said he was told a few employees at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop complained about selling bikes to police officers. The store therefore decided to terminate the contract.
The DPA Town Center Command consists of over 150 bike patrol officers and they purchase approximately 50 bikes per year from Mellow Johnny’s. For months now, during downtown protests, Austin police have used bicycles to block protesters on the roads.
“They are basically used to have a barrier between the officer and the protesters that is a bit more open, it’s not like a wall or a barricade, so there is always some ability to interact or speak with. officers. And officers can also see crowds a lot better if they just have their bikes in front of them, ”said Jennifer Szimanski, former DPA officer and spokesperson for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.
Officers have also turned to the bike patrol to help block traffic as protesters move through the city center.
“Bicycles can certainly be used as a temporary barricade or to follow protests if they change direction and block traffic at the same time,” Szimanski said.
But the tense situations between protesters and police on bicycles upset some members of the community about the role of bicycles.
Mellow Johnny’s confirms they canceled their contract with the Austin Police Department four years earlier than expected.
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On social media, an APD agent claimed that a sales manager said the decision was made because three employees didn’t like the way bicycles were used to control crowds.
“It’s definitely hurtful, I think, for agents to lose that kind of relationship they have with a company that they have obviously enjoyed over time,” Szimanski said.
She explained how bicycles are useful in many ways for ODA officers. They can answer calls on hiking trails, they can get around downtown more easily, and they are more accessible.
“This is the most effective way we conduct community policing because you are visible to the community. They can see you, you are not behind the wheel, you are not going fast, you can be flagged very easily, ”Szimanski said.
Mellow Johnny sent official documents to cancel the contract with APD on Wednesday afternoon, giving up thousands of dollars in bike sales each year to make a statement to the police.
“CLEAT, in general, we’re just concerned that parts of our community have sort of abandoned the police service. And, you know, our police department is not abandoning them, ”Szimanski said.
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The APD said it is currently looking for another supplier to provide bikes for its agents.
Mellow Johnny’s issued the following statement on the decision:
In the context of the current community policing assessment in Austin, we have made a decision to no longer purchase, resell, and service Trek bikes and accessories issued by police as part of a City of Ottawa tender. Austin to which the store had already been assigned.
We regret that we did not make our decision public before it was presented by others on social media. It is difficult in these times to balance the needs of a business and a community. Our entire group of employees engaged in this dialogue and we deepened our community to understand how we could better do our part to keep our customers safe and move this city forward in the right direction. These are certainly difficult times and we understand that people will oppose any decision taken in this direction.
Companies can no longer be non-participants in the communities they serve. We’ve chosen what we believe will do the most to bridge these divisions and put our community on the right side of history. We had to make these choices before when we felt that the companies whose products we were selling put children in school at risk of violence. We have lost sales because of this choice. We also saw our old suppliers later divest themselves of their stakes and we started selling these products again. We will live with the choices our customers make if they want to buy bikes and bike products elsewhere.
We are committed to the City of Austin and the cycling community we serve every day.
We are not against the police. We believe our local police force will protect us from the very threats we are currently receiving.
We wish this whole community peace, progress and solidarity at the end of these difficult times. And we intend to be part of the talk, the struggle and the growth of Austin, as we have been since we opened our doors in 2008. “