Bike patrol officers have the same basic patrol responsibilities as officers assigned to vehicle patrol with special emphasis placed on officer initiated activities. You may find bike patrol officers patrolling in any area of the university, including parking lots and adjacent streets, with particular concentration on those areas which are most heavily populated and least accessible by motorized patrol. In addition, bike patrol officers routinely concentrate their efforts on positive community relations and crime prevention activities through daily interaction with the various members of the campus and surrounding community.
The Marshall University Police Department Bike Unit started rolling on campus in October of 1993. The unit was only the second of its kind in the state of West Virginia but the first and currently only bike unit used in a university setting in the state. The unit began with only two officers who rode only during the milder months of the year. However, in the fall of 1995, the unit was expanded to four officers who ride full time and year around.
Benefits of Bike Patrol
- Bicycles can easily penetrate crowds – in highly congested areas police on bikes can move more quickly and safely than those in golf carts, Gators™, or on foot, and can reach areas that an not accessible to police cruisers.
- Stealth advantage – bicycles give officers the “stealth advantage” – because they are silent. Cops on bikes can ride right up to the scene of a crime before they are noticed.
- Police cyclists lead by example – promoting helmet use and bike safety to the community and its children.
- Bicycles are great for public relations – a police officer on a bike is much more approachable than one in a police cruiser.
- Bicycle use promotes good health – and departments benefit from decreased healthcare costs.
- Bicycles are enjoyable – even occasional bike duty improves morale.
- Bike units are cost-effective – the average cost per bike is approximately $1200, a fraction of the cost of a cruiser or any other motorized vehicle.
Selection & Training
Officers who volunteer for assignment to the bike patrol unit must meet certain criteria as established by the department to qualify. If these criteria are met, the officer is then required to complete the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) Police Cyclist (PC) Course before assignment to the unit is made. The IPMBA PC Course is utilized by departments worldwide and many states have recognized the course through state training boards. The course covers such varied topics as bicycle handling skills, night operations, bicycle maintenance, emergency maneuvers, nutrition, defensive and pursuit cycling, and other important information related to the police cycling field.