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Tulsa officers engage community by fixing bikes

Officers distributed about 350 flyers at schools in north Tulsa to encourage families to come get their rides repaired

By Dylan Goforth
Tulsa World

TULSA, Okla. — Amarion Thomas stood patiently Saturday morning under a covered outdoor area at the Tulsa Police Department's Gilcrease Division Headquarters.

It was one of the few dry spots available — Amarion, among others, had braved the weekend's early storm and come to the police station with one goal in mind. The dozen or so officers on hand were happy to oblige.

About 30 minutes after he arrived, Amarion, 6, left the station as the proud owner of a bicycle repaired by some of Tulsa's finest. He had gotten the bicycle as a birthday gift in June but it broke the same day, his uncle, Brandon Thomas, said.

And, hopefully, that's not the only thing Amarion left with.

"It's good for him to see the police like this," Brandon Thomas said. "This is a real positive thing. I wish they was doing this when I was his age and had a bike."

Officer Kelly Riley and a group of other officers had a collection of parts donated by Lee's Bicycles. Despite the wicked weather, it wasn't too long before they were swamped with repair requests.

Immanuel Ortega, 16, and his mother, Joi McCondichie, were the first people to arrive with a bicycle in need of some care. Ortega said the bike had been faulty since he'd won it in a church raffle.

"This is new for me," Ortega said as he watched Riley and officers Blake Hodges and Carter McQuigg disassemble his bicycle. "I've never seen policemen doing something like this unless its something crime-related. In my neighborhood, all the kids ride bikes so I know there's some that need repaired. There's probably more bikes than cars in my neighborhood."

McCondichie said she appreciated the department's community outreach. Officers had distributed about 350 flyers at schools in north Tulsa to encourage families to come get their rides repaired.

"Transportation is hard in north Tulsa," McCondichie said. "There's no sidewalks on this side of town, and when it gets cold, you don't want to walk anyway."

Riley, who Capt. Robert Heidlage said is one of the few bicycle-certified officers in Tulsa, said the event was all about trying to provide north Tulsa residents a service they might not otherwise have.

"And it will give them an opportunity to come out and meet some officers," Riley said. "And see some of us in a different light."

Copyright 2013 Tulsa World

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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