Denver police take inner-city youth for a bike ride

Colorado's capital cops ride with kids to a Denver Broncos football camp

With tensions often escalating between police officers and citizens in many parts of the United States, one American city's police department is looking to grow police-community bonds with a fun bike ride.

On July 23, a group of Colorado police officers will be riding bikes with kids from the Sun Valley Youth Center to visit the Denver Broncos, Colorado's popular professional football team that won the 2016 Super Bowl. Some 40 kids from a public housing neighborhood will ride with police officers and cyclists from Denver's Front Rangers Cycling Club to the Broncos' stadium, where they will get to spend an hour with the team at a mini-camp. Then the group will ride back to the Youth Center for lunch.

Sergeant Kim Lovato of the Denver Police Department told BikeRadar that the main goal is to "humanize the badge" — to get the neighborhood kids to see police officers as people who want to serve the community.

"Not every encounter with a police officer has to be in an enforcement role," said Sgt Lovato. "We want to interact with the kids and let them know that we may not be as scary as what some may believe. We want to show them that they can approach any officer and just say hi and know that we are there to help them."

Police and Denver neighborhood kids are riding to the Broncos stadium, as a similar group did last year
Police and Denver neighborhood kids are riding to the Broncos stadium, as a similar group did last year

 "I would love them to walk away with the impression that just because there is a police officer around does not mean that someone is doing something bad or is in trouble," Lovato said. "We want them to not have fear of anyone in a uniform."

Denver's Front Rangers Cycling Club has been working with kids for years.

"The Front Rangers Cycling Club started 23 years ago with some volunteers and some kids that were identified by the Denver Police department as at risk and it has grown from there," said Front Rangers spokesperson Deirdre Moynihan. "Each year the FRCC has a monthly outreach program from April to October. Some of the youth that have been involved went from participating in the monthly outreach to participating on the Front Rangers Cycling Club's Jr. Racing Team. Interestingly enough, the well known Bannock St. Criterium was created by the family of one of the youth that started as a high-risk kid and became a racer.  Cycling helped keep him out of trouble. Unfortunately, Mike Nields died in a sky diving accident and the family started the race in his memory."  

The sponsoring groups are providing bikes and helmets for the kids on the Saturday ride.

Denver police Sgt Kim Lovato said she hopes the bike ride and other similar programs will 'humanize the badge', and make police seem less intimidating or confrontational to kids
Denver police Sgt Kim Lovato said she hopes the bike ride and other similar programs will 'humanize the badge', and make police seem less intimidating or confrontational to kids

"Promoting bicycle safety was the second component that we wanted to focus on," Sgt Lovato said. "The Sun Valley neighborhood is scheduled to be going through a transformation over the next five years. They are going to have more connectivity to the rest of the city and the entire grid is going to change. Having various modes of transportation and utilizing bicycles and the designated paths are going to open up different gateways to downtown and the rest on the Metro area."

Sgt Lovato said she hopes the program can spread to other parts of Denver.  

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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