Bike Rodeo returns to Madison Heights

Family-friendly event set for June 10

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published June 6, 2023

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MADISON HEIGHTS — The Madison Heights Police Department will hold a Bike Rodeo June 10 with giveaways and safety checks as part of an effort to build bonds with the people they serve.

“Residents will get to talk about the community with the police, face-to-face, without the stress of a difficult situation like an emergency,” said Madison Heights City Councilman Sean Fleming, who also serves on the Crime Commission. “They can discuss the issues that matter most to them.”

The rodeo will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, across two locations: the Madison Heights Police Department, 280 W. 13 Mile Road, and Civic Center Park, right behind it at 360 W. 13 Mile Road.

A bike giveaway will be sponsored by the Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union, while the first 200 children in attendance will receive free bike helmets from Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital, which they can decorate at a separate station.

Participants are also encouraged to bring their bicycles for free safety checks by Trek Bicycle Corp., and there will be an obstacle course for them to test their riding skills, as well. All visitors are also welcome to tour the police station, see the police and fire vehicles up close, and participate in games.

In addition, the Madison Heights Lions Club will be grilling hot dogs. There will also be a group offering child ID kits. Others involved include the Arts Board, the library and Community Coalition, each with their own booths, along with various sponsors.

Corey Haines, the police chief of Madison Heights, said the Bike Rodeo is always a good time.

“The Police Department loves to engage with our citizens, and having the children as our guests is amazing,” Haines said via email. “We enjoy interacting with our citizens in a positive way, and helping to keep our kids safe on their bicycles by providing them with free helmets, and a lot of fun on their bikes to kick off summer.”

The event first appeared in the late ’90s and went on hiatus until 2014. The rodeos then continued until the pandemic put them on hold for two years.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss said such gatherings help humanize the police for the public.

“I think one thing our Police Department does extremely well is community-oriented policing, and a big focus when we talk about community policing is building those relationships, and allowing people to see law enforcement as people, outside of their times of need,” Bliss said. “When you’ve built those relationships, it allows you to be more comfortable with the police when you need them, reducing a lot of the anxiety related to the police force.

“Honestly, I’ve seen many videos of our officers in my time here on the council, and one that’s had the most impact on me was a video I saw posted to social media — a neighbor took it, maybe it was door cam footage — which showed an officer who pulled over their squad car just to toss around a football with a few kids in the neighborhood,” Bliss said. “I never saw a better example of the philosophy of our police than that moment.”

Mayor Roslyn Grafstein recalled how during the summer of 2020, the Crime Commission was merged with the Multicultural Relations Board to form the Human Relations & Equity Commission, but she later proposed rebooting the Crime Commission as a standalone entity, so it could better focus on issues like public relations.

“And outreach events like this Bike Rodeo are something we really wanted to keep doing,” Grafstein said. “I think it’s a great event — great for the public, and a great way to start the summer, right as school is ending. Bikes and helmets are given out, people can register them, and there are safety lessons too, which are always important. The idea here is to provide outreach programs that residents want and need, so this is something we’ve been working on here.

“I think we need to remember that at the end of the day, police officers are people too,” Grafstein said. “Their job is to serve and protect, and people may sometimes be hesitant to reach out for help, but I think our police officers do a great job, and events like this help us understand them. When I’m going around town, I’ll see our officers at neighborhood garage sales and buying lemonade from stands set up by kids. It’s nice to see those things, to see they’re really part of the community.”

Bliss said that a community mindset is something the city looks for when hiring new officers. There will also be more events later this year, such as a demonstration by the K-9 unit that will take place during Trail Tunes at its own venue this September.

“I appreciate not only our police, but the citizens on our Crime Commission who understand the importance of working to create moments like these,” Bliss said. “This goes way beyond giving away bikes and holding craft projects. We want our police to continuously engage with the public.”