KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Police Department’s newest tool to keep students safe has two wheels and relies on pedal power.
Students will soon see officers patrolling the campus on Trek police mountain bikes, wearing police uniforms specifically designed for bicycling. The bike patrols are part of Chief Jerry Williams’ plans to increase campus safety and create positive relationships with the campus community.
Officers on bikes usually can respond more quickly when needed on campus, he said, because they can cut through campus in a more direct route, rather than having to drive the patrol vehicle around through the parking lots.
“The bike patrol will help us foster a better relationship with our students, faculty and staff,” he said. “The officers are more approachable on the bike than they are in the car. It gives us more of a presence, which makes students feel safer, and deters crime.”
The department currently uses two bikes on loan from the Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis Police Department, and is seeking grant funding to purchase its own bicycles.
Student officer Emily West, a senior in the criminal justice program, completed International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) certification immediately after graduating from the IU Police Academy this summer. During the 30-hour class, she learned about bike safety and maintenance, and some techniques specific to police work, including shooting from the bike, how to conduct a chase on the bike, and when to discard it and chase on foot. She also learned how to ride up and down stairs.
West looks forward to patrolling the campus on the bike.
“It’s a more personal way to be a police officer,” she said. “I can stop and talk to students, which makes me more approachable, so I can interact with them more. Then, when they need help, they know me and feel more comfortable talking to me.”
When she graduates with her degree in criminal justice, the bike certification is one more addition to her résumé, which will help her stand out from other police candidates.
“Not only have I already graduated from the police academy, so I can go straight to work, but I could be placed in a bicycle program without the department having to pay for that training,” she said. “In law enforcement, any additional certification you have is a bonus.”
In addition to the bike patrols, the police department will offer Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) classes November 5, 6, and 7, to provide students, faculty, and staff the most updated line of defense, if they are every attacked. Classes are from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Cole Fitness Center. Advanced registration is required, and may be made by calling 765-455-9363.
“The safety of our campus community is a primary concern,” Williams said. “This class gives participants options they may not have known, and can learn how to conduct themselves safely to avoid putting themselves in harm’s way.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.