Residents of Tipp City may have noticed increased police patrol in the downtown area, neighborhoods, alleys, bike paths, parks and more. But, the patrolling is not being done in police cruisers, but rather bicycles. Since the beginning of July, seven police officers completed intense training to help prepare for this renewed community presence. The goal is to have another four officers trained next year, if funds permit.
“We are looking forward to utilizing the bikes a lot more than we have in the past,” Tipp City Chief of Police, Eric Burris said.
Bike patrol is not a new concept in Tipp City, but in the past, the policies were lazed and could be utilized by any officer, regardless of certification. The bike equipment was outdated and required constant maintenance. Recently, the police department renewed bike policies and requires officers to be certified by taking classes through the International Police Mountain Biking Association in order to be able to patrol with the bikes. Utilizing Chief Burris’ budgeting skills, the department was able to purchase new biking equipment, specialized for police use, and uniforms. The funds were established through the law enforcement fund fueled by monies from vehicle forfeitures.
“The bike training is 32-40 hours, depending on if the firearms portion is offered. The average mileage an officer rides during training is around 80 miles, not including the drills and skill sets that are practiced,” Tipp City Sgt. Stephanie Black said. “The training combines firearms with the skills learned with the bikes and scenarios involving when things go wrong on a bike. The shooting portion of it really ties the training all together. Instead of just drills and practice, you use your skill set in a simulated scenario based environment. By doing this you can see your strengths and weaknesses.”
The new equipment includes bike racks, hitches for the bike racks, helmets, bicycles, bike tools, and uniforms. The equipment is specialized for the police department and police needs. The bikes are sturdier yet light weight so they can be easily transported. The bikes are customized with special lights, sirens and extra bags. The uniforms allow the officers to be comfortable and able to accommodate sweat wicking/cooling as well as being able to move with ease, while wearing full gear including their bullet-proof vest. Instead of having the cruiser’s radio system for communication, the bike officers communicate through an ear piece.
“When an officer is on the bike, they choose when they want to be visible. They can go into areas that a cruiser can’t obviously fit and it helps deter criminal activity,” Sgt. Black said. “The barrier of the cruiser is removed from the public, therefore, encouraging more interaction. Citizen contact leads to more positive relations with the police and information that may otherwise may not have been obtained.”
With being in a smaller community, the bike officers get a chance to specialize in bike patrol with their certified training. It encourages officers to individualize their goals in the community. No officer is the same and their interests are likewise different. “I love the fact that the officers who are certified have done so because it’s what they like to do. Getting the program back up and going has been a great thing. Myself personally, I like diversity,” Sgt. Black said. “If I can get some exercise, while still being able to connect with the community and deter the criminal element, I’m a happy camper.”
The officers are getting great feedback from the community about their presence in the neighborhoods, schools and other areas. The biking officers are dispersed throughout the four shifts to make sure coverage is consistent. “The citizens appreciate the bike officers because it’s just one more way they know that we are keeping Tipp City safe,” Sgt. Black said. “Being prepared is essential. The safety barrier of the cruiser is also removed making, making the officer more vulnerable to outside dangers. It’s imperative that the bike officer keep themselves very aware of their surroundings at all times.”
Through the bike patrol, officers have been able to slither through town, quietly. Things cruisers would miss, the bikes allow the officers to discover criminal activities just by hearing things with their own ears, such as domestic violence or disorderly conduct. They have also been able to discover some problems with narcotics.
“Just the other day, while I was riding behind a subdivision on a trail, I was offered to look at a butterfly by a small child. So, I stopped, checked out the butterfly with her,” Sgt. Black said. “I wouldn’t have gotten that type of interaction if I were sitting in my cruiser.”
Bike patrol will continue through all seasons, weather permitting. For more information regarding the bike patrol program, contact the Tipp City police department.