FORT CARSON, Colo. — Community members might have noticed a few military police (MP) officers roaming neighborhood streets on the Mountain Post this summer. The MPs are hard to miss in their fluorescent yellow shirts, shorts, bicycle helmets and brand-new mountain bikes.
They’re known as the Fort Carson Police Department (FCPD) Bike Patrol and they’ll be patrolling the cantonment area, post parks, shopping areas and of course, neighborhood streets.
“We started the bike patrol on May 23rd (2022) and will continue operations through the summer,” said Capt. Brandon Graber, chief, FCPD patrol operations.
The bike patrol is not a pilot program. Graber said bike MPs will continue operations every summer as long as the department can keep it funded.
The group consists of 11 officers, an officer in charge and an NCO in charge, according to 1st Lt. Alex Lambert, bike patrol OIC.
“This has been a great detail,” he said. “I’ve seen the positive impact that the patrol can have on the community. Getting out into the parks and the community, the officers see a lot of people.”
Police officers can often be intimidating, especially if they are patrolling in vehicles, but officers on bicycles tend to be more approachable, especially as they engage with neighborhood children and adult residents.
“The idea is to engage and educate, interact with the children and help community members put faces with names,” Graber said.
This season’s bike patrol officers were selected from the 759th Military Police Battalion, who volunteered for the duty. Once members were selected, they then completed an International Mountain Bike Police Association course before being trained on urban and off-road riding techniques, nutrition and bike repairs.
The patrol operates Tuesdays through Saturdays, from around 2-7:30 p.m. each week. Officers meet for a shift briefing at the Fort Carson Police Station, then ride out to the neighborhoods. Typically, teams of two patrol in different neighborhoods at one time, while an NCOIC supports the teams from a traveling van, providing water, equipment and any needed parts and supplies.
“We have them spread out this year,” Lambert said. “We cover the north side of the post, plus housing areas and Iron Horse Park. We’ve even moved some patrols to the housing areas by the golf course.”
The department initiated the bike patrol last year at the behest of former director of Emergency Services, Col. Ranjini Danaraj, and chose to continue operating the program this summer. The team even received new specialized-brand mountain bikes last month. Officers depart the Fort Carson police station fully equipped, including body armor and sidearms.
As MPs, they have all the capabilities of their patrol-vehicle counterparts.
“There are some situations where we’ll send the bike patrol to respond to a call, whether it be a crime or some other incident, but community engagement remains the officers’ primary mission,” Lambert said.
Besides roaming the grounds at this year’s Freedom Fest, the bike patrol also hosted an event for kids July 23, 2022, when they invited community members to hang out with the team and learn about bike safety. Participants got the chance to ride through the team’s certification course and took a ride with bike patrol officers around Iron Horse Park.
Reception of the bike force has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Graber.
“We’ve received a lot of feedback,” he said. “People love seeing the bike patrol officers out in the neighborhoods. We’ve received a ton of positive Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) comments.”
Following their stint with the bike patrol, officers will return to their normal units and duties with the 759th MP Battalion. And, department leaders plan to continue the bike patrol in summer 2023.