Cincinnati Pilot Study Flies

By David Simpson, PCI #115/EMSCI #011
Cincinnati PD (OH)

In August 1993, the Cincinnati Police Division implemented a mountain bike patrol pilot project. The purpose of the pilot study was to determine whether or not bike-mounted police would be an effective crime-fighting strategy for the department. At the end of the study, the answer was "yes." The District Four sergeant who oversaw the pilot enthusiastically recommended the expansion of bike patrol to the Division's remaining four districts.

The study determined that mountain bike patrol officers can perform any of the functions performed by normal patrol units with the exception of expressway patrol. They are able to carry most of the same equipment, and they can patrol most beats as effectively as motorized units. They can investigate auto accidents, issue moving violation citations, and enforce parking infractions. They are especially effective at traffic enforcement in congested areas.

Part of the study included utilization of bike officers during the city's annual Riverfest. The bike officers were able to move swiftly through the crowds to resolve situations, and were effective at patrolling crowded parking lots and garages.

Statistics reflecting the activity of bike officers during the pilot project, compared to the activity of the vehicle-based relief officers, appear in the table.

The bike unit was also used to conduct a Holiday Task Force (conducted in previous years, but without bikes), targeting robberies, burglaries, and theft from vehicles. Eight mountain bike officers and two undercover officers in two shifts were assigned to work from 1200 to 0500 hours in two areas that, due to the influx of citizens during the holidays, traditionally experienced increases in both thefts and robberies. However, the Task Force was not limited to these areas; rather, it was adjusted as necessary to address problems in other areas of the district.

The Task Force was begun on December 12 and ended on December 31. At the end of that time, it was determined to have been successful in reducing the numbers of reported robberies and thefts in the target areas. The bike officers made several key arrests, bringing an on-going burglary problem to an end. Figures comparing the number of reported offenses in the target areas for two consecutive years (without bikes and with bikes) appear in the sidebar.

The positive results obtained during the District Four pilot project and the Holiday Task Force convinced the Division to expand the bike patrol throughout the city's five districts. Today there are 65 trained bike officers who operate throughout the city. They are used in a variety of ways, ranging from community policing to targeted enforcement and from drug operations to surveillance, depending on the goals of each individual division. Overall, the City of Cincinnati has benefited tremendously from the versatility, mobility, and surprise factor of police officers on bikes. 

Cincinnati PD District 4 Holiday Task Force (Combined)
  1992 1993
Robbery 24 4
Theft 62 27
Cincinnati PD District 4 Activity Report
Officer's Weekly Average Relief Officer Bike Officer
Hours on Duty 40 40
Radio Calls 32.44 23.23
Arrest-Felony 1 2.25
Arrest-Misdemeanor 2.98 9.49
Juvenile Arrests & Referrals .88 2.11
F.I.R.'s .23 1.69
Vice Incidents .48 4.67
Property Recovery Incidents 1.22 2.87
Warrants Served 4.86 9.74
Crimes Discovered .44 1.55
Misdemeanor Cleared/Follow Up .51 2.55
Moving Violation 3.46 4.38
Parking Violation 2.8 9.78
Accident Reports 1.2 .99
Motorist Assists .64 6.57
Court Appearances .75 1.01

(C) 2002 IPMBA. This article first appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of IPMBA News

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