By Cody King, Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 25, 2017
Photo: Edwardsville Police pose with Madison County Transit representatives after receiving two police patrol bike donations Thursday, May 25. This is the second donation MCT has made to the bike patrol program thus far. Photo: Cody King
Keep an eye out for Edwardsville police officers on bike patrol in yellow uniforms.
After receiving two iFORCE police patrol bicycles as a donation from Madison County Transit, the Edwardsville Police Department is now all set for the summer season. With four bike patrol officers and four patrol bikes now on-site, the department is now fully-prepared to take to the city streets and bike trails.
MCT Managing Director Jerry Kane said this isn’t the first time MCT has donated bicycles to the EPD and likely won’t be the last.
“This is the second time we donated two bikes to Edwardsville. Actually Edwardsville is where we started this program. It was the first police department that we donated bikes to. It’s a perfect location because as you know we have quite a few of our trails come through Edwardsville and Edwardsville is very pedestrian-bicycle-friendly,” Kane said. “Apparently it’s very popular not only with the police but with the people because police on a bike are much more approachable than they are in a car. We believe the police are one of the reasons we have such a good quality of life in this area. We owe a lot to them. It’s one of the few things we can do to help pay them for all of the services that we get and comfort and peace of mind, knowing we have a very good, strong, well-organized police force in the city of Edwardsville.”
The EPD wasn’t the only department to receive bikes from MCT—Maryville, Alton, Granite City, Highland, and East Alton all have benefitted from the bike patrol program.
The two Edwardsville Police bikes are equipped with a microphone, sirens similar to that on a patrol car, patrol lights, an open battery compartment that can only be opened only with a handcuff key, and a public address speaker.
Kane said both bikes are manufactured in the United States.
“These bikes are made by a company called iFORCE. They only make patrol bikes and police bikes. They don’t sell them through bike shops. The frames are made in the USA—we wanted a few bikes that had frames still made in the United States. They have a special light package—it’s built into the frame. It goes through the frame and in the back,” he said.
In exchange for the bike donations, MCT has asked the EPD to continue patrolling the MCT bike trails and creating an accessible presence for pedestrians who utilize the trails.
Bike patrol officers are now also able to transport their bikes on MCT buses across town for free to get from one section of town to the other without having to ride solely on their bikes.
With these new additions and the bike patrol program in full swing, Kane said, “People can appreciate not only the police, but the personalities behind the badge,” as it allows citizens to get up-close and personal to the officers on patrol.
Bike Patrol Officer Mark Lask, of the EPD, said the donation will definitely not go unnoticed.
“I think it’s something we really appreciate. The program is something we really like to use to interact with the community. Having two new bikes is going to allow us to—each officer on the street is going to have their own bike now that they can take care of and maintain (their own.) I think it’s just a great addition to our fleet,” Lask said.
Prior to the donation, the EPD had only two patrol bikes on-hand, which meant the four bike patrol officers needed to rotate the two bicycles when on-the-job.
Bike Patrol Officer Jason Penick said patrol officers will definitely have a presence during city-wide events and during the summer season.
“Whether it’s for parades, we can now have more officers out there for parades and 5K runs and it just gets more of us out there,” Penick said. “We try to get out on the trails and subdivisions and the business districts—whether it’s Main Street or Edwardsville Crossing.”
The benefits of the EPD utilizing a bike patrol program, according to Penick, is it allows officers to be more efficient and more accessible to the public.
“We can spot people on their phones or no seatbelts. It’s good with enforcing the traffic laws. Also I think it brings more attention when you’re on a bike and you approach somebody on a bike, they’re a lot more willing to listen to you,” Penick said. “You tell them about the laws of riding the same way, riding with the flow of traffic. A lot of the bicyclists I see don’t know that and they’ll be riding against traffic.”
The program has been ongoing for quite some time after Kane approached the EPD, hoping to revamp the bike patrol program. Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven said since MCT became a primary sponsor of the program, it has taken off significantly.
“I think Highland now has bike patrols…Granite City has bike patrols and as you can see today, we’re kind of adding to our emphasis. So having four officers allows us for the most part to have an officer on each squad at any given time. That staffing allows for that officer to work the trails. It’s a good tool when you kind of want to get up close and personal,” Keeven said. “People like to interact with our officers. People like to kind of have that close and personal interaction…Interacting with kids is fantastic. Anytime you can have a positive interaction with a youngster or even a young adult, you know that carries on into adulthood so that these people growing up in this community, they’ll know four, five or six police officers by first name, which is what our goal is.”