By Breeanna Pierce, Le Mars Daily Sentinel, Wednesday, August 1, 2018,
(Sentinel Photo by Breeanna Pierce) Officers Bob Rohmiller, left, and John Vickery, right, of the Le Mars Police Department reinstated the LPD Bike Patrol in May, to better serve their community. The officers said the patrol allows them to be more accessible to the public while also giving them the ability to patrol places they hadn’t normally, like the bike trails, golf course and parks.
LE MARS — To better serve their community, the Le Mars Police Department brought back the bike patrol earlier this year.
“It’s just something I’ve been talking to Chief Vande Vegte about bringing back and he thought it was a good idea,” explained Vickery, one of the officers behind the current bike patrol.
The previous LPD bike patrol was phased out a number of years ago. Believing there was still a need for the patrol, Officer John Vickery, along with Officer Bob Rohmiller, worked with Chief Kevin Vande Vegte to bring the bikes back.
“We used to have the bike patrol at the PD a number of years ago and recently decided to bring it back,” said Rohmiller, who has served with the LPD for two and a half years. “I grew up here in Le Mars, and it was a normal thing here to see officers on bikes in the downtown area, so we’re trying to bring that back to being the norm again.”
Vickery and Rohmiller introduced the bikes to the Le Mars community in May, putting between 12-20 miles on the bikes in one shift.
“It gives us a little more ability to come up on things we wouldn’t normally be able to see in a squad car,” Vickery explained. “We use them out on the trails. We go out to the golf course, hit up West Floyd Park, places like that. It gives us the ability to hear things a little better, see things a little better.”
Another benefit to the bikes, both officers agreed, is the lack of barrier between them and the community they police.
“When we’re cooped up inside of our patrol vehicles, making traffic stops, we don’t get the personal contact with the community,” Rohmiller said. “When we’re on the bike, it’s nothing for us to stop and say hi and talk to people.”
“It gives us a lot better communication with the public,” echoed Vickery, who was hired to the LPD three years ago. “When we’re out there on the bike, it’s easier for people to approach and talk to us. When you’re in a car, it’s a little harder. We might have the windows down but we still might not hear someone trying to talk to us.”
The improved relationship with the community was really the driving force behind bringing the patrol back, the officers said.
“I like to explore new options and try to do something a little different than we already are,” Vickery explained. “We’re out there to be more accessible. We can interact with people a little better and there’s not the barrier of the car between us and the public.”
“We like to make a positive contact with citizens,” Rohmiller agreed. “This is a good way for us to do that.”
So far, Rohmiller said, the community response has been a positive one.
“People don’t really expect you to roll up on a bike on the bike trail but so far, it’s been positive,” he said. “A lot of the kids run up and talk to you. They didn’t know we had officers on bikes in Le Mars, so it’s new to them.”
Rohmiller also hopes people will feel safer when they go out to the park and bike trails.
“When people are out there walking on the bike trail at night, I hope they find comfort in knowing that there is probably an officer out there patrolling,” he said.
Vickery and Rohmiller are currently the only two officers on the bike patrol, but they’re excited to bring more officers aboard as the need increases.
“Right now, it’s just myself and Officer Rohmiller doing it,” Vickery said. “But we’ve talked about bring a couple more guys in if they want to do it.”
“We like to be proactive instead of reactive,” Rohmiller concluded.