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Police in Bismarck spend more time patrolling parks



Bismarck, North Dakota – Going to the park is one of people’s favorite summertime activities. But what must be done to guarantee that everyone can use those outside areas safely?

Almost every shift, traffic officer Jessica Helgeson makes a trip down River Road. That makes a total of 22 shifts this summer.

“To me this is the most important thing in the summer,” said Helgeson.

As a member of the Bismarck Police Department’s park patrol unit, Officer Helgeson takes her responsibility very seriously.

“Especially down on River Road. These parks are frequented all the time, so it is important to keep them safe for the people enjoying them lawfully,” said Helgeson.

The areas of most concern, according to BPD, are Keelboat and Steamboat parks.

“Lately Keelboat has been getting a lot of attention. It’s not necessarily just juveniles; it’s your younger adults, too, that are going there. You’re getting a lot of alcohol drinking or drug use down there,” said Helgeson.

The department has been requested to expand park patrols by Bismarck Parks and Recreation. On the trails that are more difficult to access by car, police officers occasionally ride bicycles.

“They are seeking us out, they want us in there. We work really well with them to do this together. And if they have an issue at a certain park we will make sure we tell our certain officers to address that,” said Sgt. Dustin Miller.

Bismarck Parks purchased their first electric bike—likely not the last—to assist with that.

“We’re trying to look on how to expand this and we think this is the next kind of step to be natural to take to expand park patrol. They were on board right away to help us out with that,” said Sgt. Miller.

BPD receives $18,000 annually from Bismarck Parks for bike patrol. In addition to paying for police salary, $2,000 of the amount is used for bike upkeep.

To replace some of the conventional bikes in the fleet used for bike patrol, the department is looking to purchase more electric bikes.