|Keeping the peace one day at a time|
|Written by Chris Lee|
Holyoke Police Chief Phil Biersdorfer discusses a traffic issue with a motorist during a routine traffic stop. —Enterprise photo
Driving down the street having a good time jamming to the latest hit song, maybe talking on the cell phone or just talking with passengers in the car and then all of a sudden, COP!
There it sits, the black and white. You jam on the brakes, quickly throw on the seat belt and put the hands at 10 and two. As you pass him you look in the rearview mirror to see if he will turn around and pull you over.
OK, well it may not be that intense but most people can relate to a time when they have approached a police car on the side of the road or met one on the highway. Holyoke Police Chief Phil Biersdorfer calls it the halo effect. “Things are always good where we are and different where we aren’t,” he said.
This is just one of the many things police officers see during their daily routine.
During a two-hour ride with Biersdorfer or any of the other officers, one would see there is much more to the job than they would think.
You see them driving down the street, sitting near the traffic light or even chatting with the public. No matter what, they are always keeping an eye out for problems and are on a mission to keep the public safe.
The Holyoke Police Department consists of four officers and at least one is out and about 24 hours a day.
Chief Biersdorfer usually tries to begin his shift by taking a tour of the town, he said. But first, a quick stop is made in the office to see if there are any loose ends to tie up.
While on the morning tour, Biersdorfer looks for things that are out of the ordinary. Things such as storm damage, vehicles that are parked somewhere they usually aren’t or any other type of problem.
“I just like to see what there is,” the chief said.
Another area he looks into is construction or maintenance. If city crews are busy working on certain streets in town, Biersdorfer likes to know the state of progress made so if the need to route an ambulance or other police unit arises, he knows to let them know to avoid a certain area.
Just as is the case with almost everything, law enforcement in a town the size of Holyoke is much different than in a big city like Denver.
Biersdorfer said the officers get to know who lives where and what vehicles belong where. It is easier to know if something doesn’t seem right in a smaller town, the chief explained. It also helps to know faces in case the officers run into a suspicious person. “We have that personable capability,” Biersdorfer said.
One of the areas law enforcement has seen change is the use of computers in patrol units. The computers make it easier for officers to gain access and it lets them stay out of the office more.
“We don’t spend nearly as much time in the office because of the computers,” the chief said.
Biersdorfer said the number of bank robberies in Colorado has skyrocketed in the past few years and it is something he is passionate about. Patrolling the banks in Holyoke is a regular part of his tours. He has also tried to make contact with each bank in town to talk about robberies.
While on patrol, it isn’t uncommon for a citizen to stop an officer and make a request, report a problem or issue or even ask a question. Biersdorfer said calls come in and people ask HPD to patrol or watch a certain problem area.
An example includes speed. Biersdorfer said they sometimes sit and watch traffic in different areas around town. Before he sits, he first drives the area to make sure all the signs are still up and haven’t been defaced. These target traffic areas sometimes include a residential area and even the stoplight.
Some of the other calls that seem to be quite frequent include loud music complaints, issues with dogs and traffic complaints.
Another aspect of the job is driving areas of town that aren’t seen all that much. Take the alleys for an example. Officers slow down and mosey through the alleys looking for those out of place things. Biersdorfer keeps a note pad where he jots things down if he needs to relay an issue to code enforcement or another officer.
Of course, there are also things that need to be addressed in the office. Things such as police reports and even reports for Holyoke City Council need to be taken care of on a weekly and monthly basis. But as previously stated, the computers in the vehicles have helped keep the officers out on the road.
So the next time you see one of the boys in blue, remember they are there to keep you and others in Holyoke safe.