With several new officers on the force and a few years since the last training opportunity, MTSU’s Police Department is offering three bike certification courses this May and June to get patrol officers certified to serve and protect on two wheels.
“We’ll train about 15 or 16 new officers over the course of the summer once all these new officers are trained,” said Capt. Jeff Martinez. “The plan going forward is to implement bike patrol into our regular shifts; use it for football games, special events, graduations; and then maybe to offer some overtime for us to have officers on the bike doing extra patrols and be seen in the community.”
The four-day, 32-hour course includes training on and passing an obstacle course outlined by traffic cones, practical tests on the road and a 50-question assessment, said course instructor and Master Patrol Officer Leroy Carter. The course is certified by the International Police Mountain Biking Association or IPMBA.
The department also extended the training opportunity to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Murfreesboro Police Department and Goodlettsville Police Department, training several officers from each.
“Officers on bicycle patrol provide a different level of service,” said MTSU Police Chief Ed Kaup. “Not only does the utility of a bicycle allow our officers to patrol places our vehicles don’t traditionally drive, but it also tends to make our officers more approachable on campus. Add in the health benefits for our officers, and I think everybody wins.
Kaup said the department continuously trains with their law enforcement partners to help keep the campus community safe.
“This time we were fortunate enough to help train some of their deputies before our graduation season,” he said. “We are already getting positive feedback from the public regarding these patrols.”
Putting patrol to the pedal
With MTSU hosting around 16 local high school graduations at the Murphy Center over the next few months, having bicycle patrols will add another visible and mobile layer of security.
Martinez said adding patrols on bike, in addition to foot and vehicle patrol, also has advantages that will allow departments to offer a fuller blanket of protection to the campus community.
“For some of these bigger events, it’s sometimes easier to get through the crowds or parking lots because you can easily get around pedestrians,” Martinez said. “You can really see more. You don’t have the vehicle obstructions that are in the way like the mirrors, the radar units, the in-car video — all that stuff that kind obstructs your view. You’re also faster than being on foot.”
Martinez also highlighted the greater opportunity overall for engaging with the public while on a bike.
“We’re just hoping you say ‘hi,’ and you get more of interaction with us,” he said. “We like talking to people. Part of this job is talking to people…. We want to be seen more and that way we build better relationships with everybody on campus.”