UW Bothell campus security officers have new bikes, and new training under their belts, courtesy of a recent public safety cyclist training led by Detective William Bergin from the University of Washington Police Department. Police experts say officers on bicycles can encourage positive community interaction and reach areas where patrol cars can't.
“It’s a friendlier, less intimidating approach and allows us to interact with the public. I talk to many more people on a bike as opposed to being in a car,” says Bergin.
The new bikes were purchased days before the training from the Bothell Ski and Bike shop. Outfitted especially for police use, the bikes feature adjustable shock absorbers and compact, heavy-duty flashlights.
The standardized training takes 40 hours to complete, and includes lessons on how to navigate crowds at slow speeds and ride down a flight of stairs. Safety officer John Bjorndahl describes completing an intricate cone course, “It is difficult depending on fitness level, balance, and riding ability. But altogether it's a lot of fun."
The training program is used by both the Seattle and UW Police Department, allowing them to work together at events such as UW football games. “We’re looking forward to being more available to students and faculty, and having them approach us more,” says Campus Safety Officer Scott Killion.
Rich Lewis, director of campus security and safety explains, "it builds on community policing practices, it’s better for the environment, and it gives easier access to our facilities such as the newly built sports complex and conservatory space."
The training program originates from the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA). The IPMBA was founded by Seattle police officers in the late 1980’s.