SIDNEY — The Sidney City Council heard presentations on Sidney Police Department’s E-Bikes and “Cookin with Cops” programs during its teleconference workshop meeting Monday evening.
Sidney Police Chief Will Balling introduced Sgt. Sean Martin, who led a discussion on the E-Bikes (or electric bikes) program that began in 2019. E-bikes are bicycles that have a small motor attached to the pedal area, which provides assistance to the rider up to 20 mph. The motor will not work without the rider pedaling the bike.
Martin said despite the coronavirus pandemic, communication with the public improved in 2020. Bike patrol officers were more easily accessible, he said. The bikes allowed officers to learn more quickly about emerging and imminent issues, and to serve as a community resource. Often people look for police cruisers, and don’t necessarily recognize officers are on bikes, he noted. Before the program began, although the department previously had E-Bikes, Martin said he was constantly questioned about when Sidney Police obtained E-Bikes. Now he rarely hears the question from the public after having a presence in the community. Martin said the police department mostly uses the E-Bikes when fully staffed, as bikes don’t allow for as quick of a response to other areas of town as cruisers.
After a couple of brief questions, council members expressed their appreciation for the program and the efforts of all the officers involved.
After Martin spoke, Balling then introduced Community Resource Officer Bryce Stewart who gave a presentation on his new Cookin with Cops program, which will be teaching and attempting to bond with young people “on the cusp.”
Stewart detailed Cookin with Cops, explaining it will a 10-week program for high school and middle school students beginning in January at Connection Point Church’s large kitchen. It will not be religious-related. He said the program combines his passion of helping children and cooking. Area young people will learn basic cooking skills and hopefully improve their self-esteem, and other life skills. The program is possible due to grant from the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Walmart.
When asked what is his favorite dish, Stewart said the one thing he plans to teach making is his grandmother’s meatloaf. Council members expressed excitement and appreciation for the new program. Council member Jenny VanMatre, who is a retired school teacher of 38 years, praised the idea of the program to work with kids in need of guidance. She offered to help, by even washing dishes, if needed.
At the end of the meeting City Council held an executive session to consider the employment of a public employee and economic development. No action was taken when council members emerged from the session. City Council also held a special meeting Monday immediately prior to its regular meeting to hold an executive session to consider the employment of a public employee. No action was taken by council after that session.
Council member Darryl Thurber was absent at both of Sidney City Council meetings. He was excused from attending both meetings.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.