Directorate of Emergency Services begins police bicycle patrols
June 17, 2009
Community policing and public interaction is the concept behind the Fort Huachuca Directorate of Emergency Services law enforcement programs that takes some officers out of their patrol cars and on bicycles and get other officers directly involved in the schools. A Drug Abuse Resistance Education program will start in the fall 2009 school year, and beginning on July 1, police officers will start patrolling the housing areas on bicycles.
The self-initiated activity will keep the police bicycle patrol teams busy. If they are close enough to pedal the distance, the police bicycle patrol team will also be dispatched to respond to non-emergency requests for assistance.
The police bicycle patrol teams will ride high quality mountain bicycles equipped with front suspension. A bicycle is assigned to each team member, and officers are responsible to maintain their bikes to be in peak operating condition. Some of the more prominent police bicycle patrol duties will include: police patrol support; response to calls for service and assistance; juvenile activity monitoring; traffic enforcement; community policing; bicycle safety education and special events- surveillance.
"It is a community policing concept," said Ollie Shears, chief of the Law Enforcement Division. "This puts law enforcement officers closer to community residents and gets the patrol car out from between them and the general public. It gets the police officers on the ground, talking and interacting with people."
Police bicycle patrols are directly visible to the community and help officers build stronger relations with residents, particularly children. The officers will coordinate with the safety office to hold a series of bicycle safety rodeos in the housing areas. The idea is to inform children how to ride safely and how to abide by the rules of the road. Shears said, "Officers will explain to them why they have to wear a helmet, why their bikes need to be in good working order, and why they need to learn things like hand and arm signals."
While patrolling, the officers are able to go places where patrol cars cannot. They will be able to patrol the numerous trails and alleys that wind through some neighborhoods. This is helpful in enforcing rules such as the use of paintball guns in and around the housing areas. In fact, Fort Huachuca Regulation 190-14 outlines restrictions on various types of weapons and includes a list of those weapons that must be registered on the installation. These include shotguns, rifles, handguns, all war trophy weapons, antique and replica firearms with operational firing mechanisms, fully automatic weapons (if properly registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, U.S. Department of Treasury, curios and relics (such as shot pistols), shoulder stocked pistols and revolvers, muzzle loading weapons, crossbows, black powder privately owned weaponeer guns, martial arts throwing stars and stun guns.
If children are in areas only accessible via bicycles or walking, police bicycle patrol teams can access those areas with their bicycles and possibly prevent vandalism or criminal activity. Police can also meet with children and explain rules and laws and why they shouldn't be engaging in certain activities
Military Police officer Sgt. Levi Dodd said trading his patrol vehicle for a bike has its advantages. Dodd can reach speeds close to 30 miles per hour, pull over cars for speeding in housing areas, make apprehensions and be a friendly neighborhood face to children.
"We are trying to make a positive impression on children so whenever they see a police officer or an MP, they are not scared of them," Dodd said. "It lets them know we are here for you. It will allow us to mentor them to be law-abiding citizens."