Safety and security are top priorities for the Bexley Police Department.

Safety and security are top priorities for the Bexley Police Department.

With the arrival of the department's first sport utility vehicle, it's more fully equipped to protect and serve, officers say.

Police Chief Larry Rinehart said the combined forces of bicycles, sedans and the new SUV complete his patrol fleet.

A black and white 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer was purchased after Bexley City Council approved the department's budget late last year, Rinehart said. Capt. Robert Buty said the Trailblazer cost the department $20,137.

The department also purchased two new 2008 Ford Crown Victorias at the same time, costing $20,053 each at the state bid price. The new sedans are the same make and model as the previous Crown Victorias, but represent the department's new color scheme -- black and white rather than the old blue and white.

The new sedans also feature enhanced suspension and charging systems to manage all the electrical equipment.

Each year, the department rotates out three vehicles, Rinehart said.

Officer Ron Kenefick said with three different kinds of police transportation, all with different capabilities, Bexley has "every base covered."

The four-wheel drive SUV arrived in Bexley in March about a week before the record snowstorm, which proved to be perfect timing, Rinehart said.

At the time of the blizzard-like conditions the new vehicle was not marked, so officers put temporary magnetic signs on it for patrol duties.

Rinehart said he thinks every police department should own a four-wheel drive vehicle that can be used in all weather conditions. He also said that in terms of fuel efficiency, the new SUV, which has a six-cylinder engine, does about as well as the cruisers -- 14 miles per gallon in the city.

"It was great comfort to us knowing that we had at least one vehicle that could go anywhere," he said. "Even without the snowstorm, it is still a good idea for every police department to have a vehicle that can go off road in almost every weather condition."

Kenefick said the SUV is also useful because it has extra room to carry equipment like bolt cutters and door rams to knock down doors in case of an emergency.

"It carries little odds and ends that, as patrolmen, we need to carry," he said.

The department currently has seven bicycles that are equipped with small lights and sirens to handle street patrol.

Two bikes were recently donated by a Boy Scout troop from Reynoldsburg. First Bexley Bank also donated $800 to the department for the purchase of a newly equipped bicycle.

Rinehart said there is usually at least one officer out on bike patrol each shift during the day.

"We put them out to add another element to our patrol tactics," he said.

Kenefick, who often goes out on bike patrol, said it's a great public relations tool.

"You can hear someone yelling for help, and you can stop to talk to residents," he said.

He also said the bikes are good for patrolling the city's alleys and bike paths, sneaking up on suspects and smelling the air for signs of illegal substances.

"You can't squeeze a big SUV down a bike path," Kenefick said.

Even though there are many advantages to the bikes, Rinehart said they can't be used in every situation.

"They are very much a fair-weather police tool," he said. "You can't put any equipment on a bike or a scooter."

Rinehart said he thinks every police department needs to have a variety of vehicles to function in different circumstances.

"We are in the business of being on the road," he said. "There are very few comparable police stations in the area that don't have a four-wheel drive vehicle."

Kenefick said he thinks the Bexley Police Department is leading the way for community protection.

"We're right at the top of the curve," he said.