MP bike patrol protects people, property
September 10, 2013
YONGSAN, Republic of Korea -- You see them cruising around the post, patrolling the roads and trails of USAG Yongsan during the warm Korean months. They have a badge, and protect and serve the Yongsan community, but they are riding on two wheels, not four.
"Like our counterparts in patrol cars, we help keep our community safe, and take our job very seriously," said SPC. Jimmy Cartrette of the USAG Yongsan Bike Patrol. "The main difference is we can patrol in some areas where a car can't go."
The patrol monitors bicycle, skating and pedestrian safety, in garrison parks and roadways, enforcing USFK rules and regulations. The bike patrol also supports garrison and FMWR functions and events, such as the PAC-Wide softball tournament, the 4th of July celebration and other large-scale, crowded festivals and events.
A large part of the bike patrol's job involves interacting with the public, specifically families and children. While patrolling, the MP's ask citizens of all ages about their concerns for the community, what they think is being done right, or what can be improved on.
"I am here with my family, so I want to know how they (families) feel and what they have to say so, I can help fix it," Cartrette said.
According to Cartrette, the number one complaint from people involves drivers speeding in school zones and housing areas. The speed limit around the schools is 25 MPH (Monday through Friday, 0700-1600), and 25 MPH in residential areas, unless otherwise posted.
The purpose of the bike patrol is to make the MPs more approachable for some people, especially children and young adults.
"With regular MP patrols, they may feel intimidated," said SSG Earl Webb of USAG Yongsan Provost Marshall Office. "But with an officer on a bike, they may feel that they are easier to talk to and approach for help."
Like many who work in law enforcement, there is no such thing as a typical day for the bike patrol.
"Everything is random," said PFC Lee Miller of the USAG Yongsan bike patrol. "We do everything from patrolling parking lots, school zones, monitoring housing, watching for people wearing headphones near the roadways, checking for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and anything else that comes up."
The patrol also helps the schools on post, by coordinating with the principals to deal with students skipping school.
"The principals have reported a drop in the truancy rate during the months we are patrolling," Miller said. "We maintain a presence, and if we see kids off campus during school hours we stop and ask them why they aren't in school."
The patrols also respond to citizen concerns, investigate accordingly, and, when necessary, radio ahead to a patrol car to report a reckless driver or other moving violation.
Unfortunately, the bike patrol MPs do have some negative experiences from the public.
"Sometimes people disrespect us because they think we have less authority than an MP in a car," said Cpl. Lee, Han-sol, of the USAG Yongsan bike patrol. "But I try to not let that bother me and just remind myself why we are here."
The soldiers are selected for bike patrol by their platoon sergeants for high PT scores and their performance in MP duties. They serve in a six month rotation annually, from May through September.
"I like being on bike patrol because I get good exercise all day, and I feel good about protecting families and kids here on Yongsan," Lee said.
"I really like talking to family members about what MPs can do to help make their stay here in Korea safer and more comfortable for their children," Miller said.
And when they have an unusual situation or need some help with their gear, their fellow MPs are ready to help them out.
"They call us for back up, they let us know if something is wrong with their bikes, so we can get them fixed for them," said Sgt. Alexander Crumrine, Traffic Accident Investigator. "They do a great job and we appreciate the hard work and sweat they put into helping our community."
"We want people to know we are there for them, no matter what, and we want them to feel more comfortable to approach all MPs," Cartrette said. "No problem is too small, we are here to help."