David Willberg / Estevan Mercury, JULY 26, 2018 04:22 PM
Photo: Const. Keaton Wlaz is one of the new bicycle patrol officers for the Estevan Police Service.
The Estevan Police Service (EPS) has announced plans to bring back a bicycle patrol unit.
Police Chief Paul Ladouceur said the EPS had a bike patrol unit until 2004, when it was abandoned because members of the EPS were becoming increasingly busy. Officers suggested it was time to reintroduce the unit.
“It’s a great community engagement unit where they can get out to events and talk to kids and things like that,” Ladouceur told Lifestyles.
The unit also has advantages because it can move through the back alleys and the parks in ways that a patrol car can’t. It also bridges the gap between being in a patrol vehicle, and walking.
If an officer on foot is in the outskirts of the city, it can be difficult to respond to a call in a timely fashion.
“At least on a bicycle, you’ve got that increased speed of response,” said Ladouceur.
It can also be easier for an officer on a bicycle to sees a motorist who is texting at a red light or not wearing a seatbelt.
The EPS had to purchase equipment and uniforms for the bicycle patrol officers through its existing budget. The equipment from the previous bicycle patrol was dated and no longer usable after several years of service, so new bicycles and equipment had to be purchased, and officers had to be trained.
“It’s not a case where we can just grab a couple of bikes and throw some officers on them, it’s a case where the officers have to have proper equipment, and the bikes have to be properly equipped, enabling them to carry duty notes and equipment officers would normally carry in a car,” said Ladouceur.
The bicycles will be purchased locally, but they will be a heavier-duty bicycle than what is found in stores.
Uniforms are different for officers who are patrolling while riding a bicycle.
One member from each of the four platoons and a member of the criminal investigations division will be trained and equipped as a bicycle officer. The officers are constables Landon Polk, Keaton Wlaz, Daniel Gaignard, Jarren Senchuk and Braden Lonsberry.
“When time permits, they will be out there on the bicycles,” said Ladouceur.
One of the officers will go to Regina for training, and then that member will return and share that information with the other officers who are part of the unit.
“It’s not a mandated training, but it’s certainly a benefit for those officers who are out on the bicycle patrol unit,” said Ladouceur.
Wlaz said he is looking forward to being part of the unit, because of the community engagement component.
“In a car, you have closed windows, but with a bike you’re more able to be around people and talk to people and stop and chat,” said Wlaz.
He also expects he’ll be able to see things he normally wouldn’t see in a patrol car.
Wlaz, who has been part of the EPS for four years, said he enjoys cycling, as it allows him to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and he is looking forward cycling while he works.
The EPS wanted to have the patrol unit in place for the start of the summer, Ladouceur said, but now he hopes it will be starting in a couple of weeks.