ClawsonJune 18, 2012
Clawson cops add new bikes to patrol squad
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
CLAWSON — Members of the Police Department will be two-wheeling it more often this summer now that two brand-new bicycles have been added to the patrol rotation, joining three older bicycles purchased when the program started in 1993.
The department recently bought two Fuji Police Special mountain bikes, providing a much-needed upgrade to the three 19-year-old Trek police bikes that will remain in service.
“They’re old and becoming expensive to maintain with the different parts,” Police Chief Harry Anderson said of the Trek bikes. “The Fuji bikes were recommended with all the listers for police bikes.
“(When the program started,) it was just kind of a buzz around. I was the first sergeant running the program. The whole theory is like an old beat cop to have face to face with people.”
Officer Dale Mills, who spent a portion of the past two weeks training to use the new bicycles, said there’s a lot of good to be had from the bicycle patrol unit.
“It’s a great thing for police work from a (public relations) standpoint because people can see us out there,” Mills said. “My goal would be to have a bike safety course for kids. It’s also good for stealthiness because you can sneak up on people. There’s a lot of things you can see and hear that you can’t on a patrol car. The three Bs to police biking are be seen, be paranoid and be predictable.”
Along with another officer, Mills had to undergo a 40-hour training course in which they rode 20 miles per day in a variety of locations, such as the hilly campus of Oakland University. The department now has seven officers trained to perform bicycle patrol, which will be done primarily during special events and when enough officers are on staff.
“Whenever we have enough manpower, we’ll be out there,” Mills said. “(It creates) more options to keep the city safe.”
Equipped with a six-hour battery to fuel the headlights, flashing police lights and siren, the bicycle patrol allows officers to have a better ear out while patrolling the community. It also allows them to approach suspects who may be smoking marijuana at City Park or vandalizing school property without them scattering at the sight of a police car that may still be a block away when first sighted.
“People didn’t even realize I was a police officer until I was right up on them,” Mills said. “(It provides) visibility if you want it or lack of visibility if you don’t.”
Anderson said that was one of the initial benefits discovered nearly 20 years ago.
“The bad guys quite often aren’t looking for officers on a bike. They’re looking for a police car,” Anderson said. “I think it’s going to be good for the officers and good for the community. When you start talking to people, you become more aware of the problems they’re having. You have to really want to be out there to be effective.”
If a bike officer needs to make arrest, they can simply call a patrol car in for backup to transport the suspect. They can also give traffic tickets in situations like catching seat belt violators who may be at a stop light.
Mills said he was glad the Clawson Police Department is reinforcing the bicycle patrol unit after nearby communities such as Troy have discontinued theirs. He also hopes it will help educate residents about laws requiring bicyclists to ride in the street, not on the sidewalk.
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