The Bicycle Patrol program began in the late summer of 1999, with six road patrol officers. The intent was to get road officers more in touch with local residents as well as our business community. The unit got great reviews from the public and was expanded to ten officers in the early part of 2000. As of mid 2005, we have a total of 20 officers that are certified. Some are currently assigned to areas away from the patrol division, but continue to ride during special events. The program has given officers the chance to stop and interact with citizens in Saginaw Township on a regular basis. The officers and citizens alike have been very positive about the program.
The calendar year 2000 was the first full year of bicycle patrol in Saginaw Township. The Bike Patrol logged 1,556 miles while riding slightly more than 237 hours. Rates of patrol on the bikes has varied during the last couple of years due to manpower demands, but 2004 still saw over 400 miles of bike patrol time. These miles are only from active road patrol officers.
The police department worked closely with specialists from The Stable in Saginaw to purchase and equip bicycles that would fit our needs. We purchased six TREK 8000 Police Model bikes. They are equipped with luggage racks that carry nylon trunk bags. The bags carry several pieces of equipment that officers may need. The bikes also are equipped with Niterider rechargeable headlights and Specialized brand odometer/speedometers.
In the fall of 2000, the department received a donation of two Schwinn Moab Police Model bikes for use. At the end of June 2001, two more bikes were donated. Those were also a pair of Schwinn Moab Police Models. The four bicycles were donated by McDonagh Amusements of Saginaw after the owner of the company saw how effective and versatile the bike officers were during outdoor events in the community. These bikes are equipped the same as the TREK's.
We have continued to keep an active rolling inventory of bicycles and currently there are 16 bikes available for officers. Most of those bikes are assigned to the same officers on a regular basis.
The bikes are carried during the officers tour of duty on the back of their patrol vehicle with the use of either Road Gear or Yakima multiple bike racks. When the bikes are carried in this manner, they are locked to the carriers for safety and security.
All officers that are in the bike unit applied for it and were appointed. Those officers then underwent an extensive bicycle officer training course at the Bay City Police Department, in conjunction with Delta Community College, for certification. The course, Police Cyclist Course, is certified by IPMBA (International Police Mountain Bike Association). Several of the officers also joined that association in order to keep up with new equipment and training in this field. The IPMBA certification is also recognized by the Michigan Commission On Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). Midland Police also host a certification course that some of our officers have attended.
The course covered about 50 hours in five days. Officers rode nearly 80 miles through all types of terrain, from street riding to rugged trails. They also trained on how to do many maneuvers on the bikes for a variety of situations including jumping, dismounting and carrying the bikes over fences during prolonged foot chases. After a week of minor scrapes and changing of tire inner tubes, all officers described the course as intensive, but enjoyable and well worth the time.
(International Police Mountain Bike Association)