This semester, Campus Safety and Security (CSS) expanded its bike patrol program with its first training session in eight years.
CSS officers interested in participating in the program attended a three-day training session over the summer, in which they learned proper bike handling and safety. Police officers interested in learning bike safety for their own patrols were also able to attend. In addition, CSS purchased two new, semi-electric fat tire bikes.
The bike patrol started in 1997 and the previous training program, which also focused on expanding the patrol, was in 2008.
The bike patrol is popular in part because it promotes officer health. It can also be faster than using CSS vans.
“We found that our response on the bicycles was usually quicker than our response on vehicles because, once you got familiar riding around this campus … you learned all the shortcuts so you could usually get to places in a hurry,” Tony Sinico, a CSS officer and bike patrol member, said. Officers on bikes are also better able to respond to incidents around them than those in motor vehicles.
The new fat tire bikes should enable the officers to cover a wider portion of the terrain on campus as well as to be active in a wider range of weather, further reducing reliance on vans. The motors are powered by rechargeable batteries, which will minimize their ecological impact.
According to Sinico, the bike patrol was part of CSS’ green initiative to reduce emissions from vans. CSS officers may also travel on foot to help reduce van usage. CSS experimented with a hybrid car to further reduce emissions, but found that the frequent stopping and starting of the car that security work requires caused costly maintenance problems.
Sinico predicts that the bike patrol will remain popular and practical in the future.
“As we bring younger officers into the department, all of them are expressing an interest in the bike patrol,” he said. “We’re starting to plan for the future … I see it continuing. I think equipment-wise we’re set for a little while, but once we see an opportunity to get some equipment that might give our bike patrol some advantages, we’ll certainly go that way.”
Sinico emphasized the power of students having polite and kind interactions with officers.
“One of the things we really enjoy when we’re out on campus, especially when we’re more accessible like that, either walking or on a bike, is just a smile and nod ‘hello’ or a quick conversation. We know everybody’s busy. They know we’re busy. But it means a lot to get some acknowledgement from the community — it’s almost like a sign of approval when we see that.”