History of Police Bike Patrol: Over one hundred years ago, police departments routinely patrolled cities and towns by bicycle. The bike was tremendously popular only until the advent of the automobile. The bicycle then disappeared from policing. It wasn't until the late 1980's that the bicycle made a comeback. In 1988, Sergeant Paul Grady of the Seattle Police Department convinced his superiors that mountain bikes could be a viable patrol vehicle in the congested downtown area, waterfront parks, and market districts.
Seattle believed that the bicycle could prove to be an invaluable tool. They were faced with problems such as vehicle congestion, vagrants, gang activity, purse snatching's, and auto burglaries. A solution to this problem seemed to be the mountain bike. It enabled officers to be mobile enough to respond quickly to calls for service with the ability to maneuver through gridlock traffic, congested sidewalks, and lots. It also enabled them to chase down fleeing suspects.
Grades implementation of the mountain bike soon led to the rest of the country's use the modern mountain bicycle. By late 1993, it was estimated that over 400 law enforcement agencies had some type of bike patrol program. Presently there is a vast group of agencies that use the mountain bike for patrol operations they are: City/Town Police Sheriffs Departments State Police Military Police College Police Departments Housing Police Departments Federal Park, and Forest agencies EMT Rescue Departments US Secret Service Funding: The establishment of the program can be achieved with the help of community policing funds. These funds have proved effective in helping departments get their program off the ground. The funds shall cover the cost of training, equipment, and uniforms.
Establishing A Program: To implement a mountain bike unit for a police department you will need the support of Management. You will need a commitment from both management, and the officers who are selected to participate. Officers who a selected to participate in the unit should be in good physical condition, and able to pass a physical examination by a physician. They should also have the ability to interact positively and work closely with the public. They should also be self-motivated with a desire to develop and implement highly pro-active patrol tactics. Officers should all be certified by COBWEB (cops on bikes with education for bicyclists) They should be committed to a teamwork philosophy.
Have the ability to work independently and handle complex situations with little supervision. Community Policing: Problem Oriented Patrols are accomplished by concerted and consistent enforcement in four steps. 1. Identification of problems and problem areas.
2. Developing alternatives to solve the problem. 3. Initiating corrective action.
4. Evaluating operational success. Problem Identification: Initially the objective is to identify problem areas, and groups. Develop intelligence on when, where, and how the problem is occurring. Reviewing calls for service, incident reports, interviewing and utilizing surveillance helps determine violation patterns.
Developing Solutions: Based on the information gathered in the first phase, a plan is developed using creative methods, and concentrated efforts to target the causes of the problem. An effective way of developing solutions is to hold a brainstorming session with field personnel. Develop a list of options, then evaluate each option for success potential. An action plan should be developed from this idea, utilizing patrol methods, which will be most efficient. Taking Action: The third phase is implementation of the action plan. This may involve concentrated proactive enforcement activities in a particular problem area.
Proactive enforcement involves citing, arresting or otherwise contacting members of problem groups for every observed offense. The message should be clear. "If you " re causing problems, this is not the place for you." Action plans are only limited by the creativity of the people developing them. Actions are most effective when those who face the problem the most (the police officer in the field) are empowered to solve them, and given the appropriate resources they need to make the plan work. Evaluating the Results: The final phase is evaluation and maintenance, which involves monitoring problem areas and groups, and finding ways to further solve these problems or prevent them from returning. Advantages of the bicycle: There are many advantages why the police mountain bike has become an effective tool, they are: Officers are more accessible to the general public.
They appear more approachable and less threatening. Officer become more involved in their community and increase their knowledge of the communities needs through increased positive contact. They are cost effective. Ten to fifteen officers can be fully outfitted for the price of one patrol car. Bicycles give the officers a "stealth approach" they are quiet, and enable the officers to arrive on scene almost unnoticed. Improves morale.
Keeps an officer in shape Disadvantages of the bicycle: Bike patrol officers cannot transport prisoners. Bike patrol officers should not conduct traffic stops. Without proper training, there may be a slight increase of injury. Lack of Cover Cannot patrol too large of a geographic area. Mountain bike officers should not routinely conduct motor vehicle stops. Creating a Department Policy: All police departments, who plan on implementing a mountain bicycle unit, should develop a written policy.
The policy should include such information as: Mission Statement Purpose Guidelines, Capabilities Procedures for deployment Scheduling Use of Force Safe Operation Equipment Maintenance Training Training: The basic police mountain bike patrol officer's course prepares the entry level Mt. Bike Patrol Officer for his / her duties while on Mt. Bike Patrol. Experienced bike patrol officers teach the course and it is held at various locales. The course is a five day, 40 hour class, and it enables the student / trainee to understand what the concept of Patrolling by bicycle entails and how to apply it to his / her community. The student is instructed in basic bicycle handling skills, and patrol riding skills on a multiple speed mountain bicycle.
The student learns basic nomenclature, proper equipment selection, maintenance and repairs of the bicycle relative to patrol needs. The student also becomes familiar with bicycle laws, and their enforcement. The course also covers reviews on the Community Policing philosophy, and how to implement it in the use of officers patrolling on bicycles. Students are also taught basic nutrition, and fitness principles. Students are also taught how to react to different situations that he or she may encounter while patrolling on a bicycle. This area includes a broad spectrum of various subjects such as climate conditions, terrain, day / nighttime riding, confronting a suspect and crowd control.
Upon completion of the course the student will have a working knowledge of, and will have developed confidence in mountain bike riding. The mountain bike officer will also come away with a comprehensive understanding of standard operating procedures, proper protocol to insure safety and minimize liability Equipment: Police departments have a choice of many types of bicycles, and equipment for their department's use. The most common type of bicycle used is the mountain bike. It has a thick frame, and wide rims, and tires to handle the rough urban & off road terrain.
Bicycles range in price anywhere from five hundred dollars to over fifteen hundred dollars. They should be equipped with a light, reflectors, and a duty bag for the rear rack. The bicycles should also be equipped with a water bottle holder. The officers must all be equipped with a certified helmet. Officers should wear gloves, and padded shorts. Officers should also be encouraged to wear their protective body armor, and a cotton polo type police shirt.
Summary: The mountain bicycle has been proven to be an invaluable tool for the police. Most all departments now have a unit in place. The bikes are extremely popular with the public, and seem to break the barriers between the public, and the police officer. Having served as a mountain bike officer, I can attest to its success.