By Rick McCrabb, Staff Writer, Dayton Daily News, March 11, 2014
Middletown added a “great tool” to its police force and it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime.
The police department recently purchased four electronically powered Stromer bikes that cost $3,000 each, and were paid for through a grant, Chief David VanArsdale said.
The bikes can go 30 miles per hour and allow officers to respond to the crime scene quicker than a traditional pedal bike, and when they arrive, they’re not as tired, he said. The bikes also will reduce the cost of gasoline to the department, he said.
VanArsdale said Creative Signs by Keith in Middletown put the decals on the black bikes for free, and Segway of Cincinnati charged the department less than the suggested retail price.
VanArsdale was introduced to the bikes by accident. He was jogging when he saw a neighbor checking out one of the bikes. He asked VanArsdale if he wanted to take a test ride, and after that, he immediately said: “These would be perfect for police work.”
It didn’t take long for the bikes to have an impact on crime in the city. On the first night two officers tested the bikes, there was a home invasion in the city’s East End, the chief said. When the suspects saw the oncoming police cruiser and heard its sirens, they escaped. But the suspects were apprehended a few minutes later by the bike patrol.
“They rode right up to them,” VanArsdale said of the quiet bikes.
Then over the weekend, officers on the electronic bikes made two drug busts, which caused other drug dealers in the city to post warnings on social media: “Watch out for the cops on the bikes. They’re out there.”
VanArsdale believes the Middletown Division of Police may be the first in the area to use the electronic bikes, which are popular on college campuses. An electric motor is located behind the front tire, and it powers the back wheel. In just a few seconds, an officer can increase the speed of the bike from zero to 30 mph without much effort, he said.
They also allow officers to spend less time in their cruisers and interact with the community, said officers Sam Allen and Ryan Morgan, part of the department’s bike patrol. Allen said he recently stopped at United Dairy Farmers and everyone, especially the kids, asked about the bikes.
He said it’s important for police officers and residents to have that open dialogue.
Allen, who has 15 years experience, said the bikes are working out “real well” and said they’re more convenient to use than a cruiser, especially in a downtown setting. VanArsdale said the bikes will be used to patrol during the city’s numerous concerts and city park events.