The University Police Bicycle Patrol has proven to be an excellent method of policing the campus. The bicycle patrol is a cost-effective way to conduct policing. Initiated in 1996, four police officers are assigned to bicycle patrol. This is an additional duty for Patrol Services Officers, for which they received specialized training and must maintain certification.
The department currently owns 6 mountain bikes, which are adapted specifically for patrol operations.
- There are many benefits associated with bicycle patrols.
- The mobility of the bicycles enables officers to patrol areas more frequently and to move silently in and out of any area.
- Bike patrols can move through areas of congestion with relative ease compared to police cruisers.
- Violators on bicycles can be easily pursued regardless of the route they may take.
- Contact with the community increases with the bicycling officers being more approachable than those in automobiles.
The University of Tennessee of Chattanooga Police Department has made great strides to reinstate the police bicycle patrol program. Putting police officers on bikes is an old concept dating back to around 100 years. The New York Police Department stated bike patrols in an effort to offset the costs of mounted police. Bicycles are less expensive and easier to maintain then horses and the same is true for the modern police vehicle. Over the past decade, bike patrol programs have made a huge resurgence due to their increased effectiveness in highly populated areas.
Bike patrol programs have many advantages: an officer becomes more approachable, without the car doors and windows creating a barrier between the officer and the public and allows for more informal interactions. This approachability augments the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s commitment towards community policing. The bicycle also attracts young people to Officers, which creates a learning situation for safe riding practices.
A bicycle also has access to areas that a car doesn’t, such as trails, side yards, and alleys. This broadens our patrol abilities especially when it comes to pursuing suspects who are on foot. A bicycle is also less obtrusive and more low-key than a patrol car. This allows an officer to approach a situation without being observed and without as great an interruption in “normal” activity than a car.
In order to become a member of the bike team, the Officer must attend an intensive four-day training program. The Training teaches the Officer advanced riding skills, offensive, and defensive riding strategies and basic bike maintenance. There are currently three bike Officers, Sergeant Truiett and Field Training Officers Johnson and Soyster. The bike team uses three specially equipped Trek bikes which are able to be used during all shifts and all environments.
The bike patrol program was initiated primarily for crime prevention; however, the department also wishes to use the bike program to promote bike safety and education through presentations and bike safety rodeos. The community and educational aspects of the bike program will be initiated to reinforce bike safety, to encourage children and parents to always wear helmets, you won’t see us without ours, and teach proper care and maintenance. If you are interested in learning about the bike program or organizing a bike rodeo please contact Field Training Officer Soyster at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Police Department at 423-425-4357.