Published: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 11:24 p.m. CDT, MySuburbanLife.com, Downers Grove IL
By Jeanne Millsap – Shaw Media Correspondent
SHOREWOOD – The Shorewood Police Department’s bicycle patrol has been active for more than 20 years. In the beginning, officers were required to purchase their own bicycles and gear, and their activities were limited to parades and other special events.
Today, the bike patrol is an integral part of the police force, and its officers attend training classes where they learn police bike techniques, aggressive riding, safety and equipment maintenance. They ride 21-speed, specially outfitted mountain bikes and wear uniforms, including cold-weather gear when necessary.
The patrol is wrapping up a busy summer of police work. Shorewood Deputy Police Chief Eric Allen, coordinator of the bicycle patrol, took some time out for the Herald-Life to share what it’s like to be a bicycle patrol officer.
Jeanne Millsap: Chief Allen, how many officers do you have on your bicycle patrol?
Deputy Chief Eric Allen: Four.
Millsap: Are these officers on bike patrol full-time?
Allen: The bike officers are full-time patrol officers assigned to their respective shifts and designated to bike various hours throughout the work week.
Millsap: Why is it important for a village like Shorewood to have a bike patrol?
Allen: Bike Patrol offers patrolman opportunities they would not otherwise have if patrolling from their squad car. From a community relations perspective, officers find themselves interacting more with residents of Shorewood while bicycling down a given street than they would while driving. From a crime prevention and criminal apprehension perspective, officers hear and see much more while on a bicycle than they do from the driver’s seat of their cruisers.
Millsap: What are some specific examples of how you have seen the patrol benefit the community?
Allen: Our officers regular participate in Bike Rodeos, which are bike usage and safety demonstrations put on for youth in our community. This provides an opportunity to develop positive relationships with children throughout Shorewood while we education them in rules of the road for cyclists.
Millsap: Can you tell us some of the things they learn in their training classes about law enforcement on a bicycle?
Allen: Our bicycle officers participate in a 32-hour training course before deploying a bike while on patrol. This training course is broad in scope and covers things such as rules of the road for cyclists, bicycle maintenance, safe riding and pursuing persons from a bicycle.
Millsap: Do your bicycle patrol officers issue citations?
Allen: Yes they do. It’s not often an officer will stop a motorist from his bicycle, but it happens.
Millsap: Summer must be the busiest time for your bike patrol. Can you tell us some of the things they did over the summer, and how long through the fall season will they continue?
Allen: Our officers assisted a Cub Scout troop this summer with a Bike Rodeo and partnered with McDonald’s as they donated and assembled 30 bikes for children in need from the Shorewood area.
Millsap: What else do you think we should know about Shorewood’s bicycle patrol?
Allen: Readers should understand that our bicycle program is just one of many ways we reach out to our community in an effort to keep Shorewood thriving for generations to come.