By Maria S. Ramirez
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Bike riding has not only become an economical and recreational way to get around for students on campus, it is being adopted more and more by local law enforcement agencies, such as the UA's, to patrol large areas in a shorter amount of time.
"One patrol man on bike is worth more than two officers on foot," said Martin Ramirez, UAPD officer and trainer for the UA Bike Program. UAPD currently has 10 police officers, four student civil service officers (CSOs) and four security guards trained to patrol the campus on bike.
Ramirez said the program makes a lot of sense economically. A fully equipt bike patrol unit of 10 officers equals the supply cost of a patrol car-and-a-half.
Ramirez added that the bike enables him to cover twice as much area, twice as fast. It is not only good for the environment, but the officers are in better shape and more alert to handle situations where they need their adrenaline pumping, he said.
The relationship with the UA community is also an important factor.
"As a bike patrolman, I am closer to the public and I am seen more of an equal, than the image portrayed in a patrol car," Ramirez said. He feels that bike patrolman have better relations with students and staff but believes that at no time can a bike replace a patrol car and the protection it provide an officer.
The drawbacks are few. The one possible disadvantage is that in cases of emergency, a patrol car could be used as a barricade or a shield, but a dangerous situation like that has not come up, Ramirez said.
"The patrol car is still very important," Ramirez said. "It's necessary to transport a suspect or victim, but most important, it protects the officer."
Michele Ybarra, a vendor on the UA Mall, said she notices the officers on the bike and likes it.
"I like to see them on the bike and you can tell they are in good physical shape," she said.
Aside from 40 hours of training on bike patrol maneuvers and procedures, the officers must learn to work with the equipment they must carry, which adds between 10 to 15 pounds to their body weight. The equipment includes the $400 mountain bike they are assigned, a radio and a flashlight. There are usually one to three officers on bike patrol in a 24-hour period.
CSO Creighton Brandt, criminal justice senior, has been working with UAPD bike patrol for a little over a year. He works nights in the summer, mainly because of the heat.
He views the CSO bike unit as a deterent against crimes such as burglary and assault on campus. Brandt said he once rode up on a burglary in progress when he was doing a routine building check of the stadium. He saw two individuals climbing through an open window and police were able to respond and make an arrest before anything was taken.
"I was able to help because they didn't even hear me," he said. "They didn't even hear me when I drove up and called police."
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