Bike patrol brings increased safety to UALR
by Hunter Spence
The Department of Public Safety has announced a number of upgrades to begin the year, including a new bike patrol squadron, new uniforms and four newly-trained officers. Adding these new, more mobile officers will bring more protection and presence to the center of campus, deterring crime on campus, according to officials at UALR’s Department of Public Safety.
Training for the new bike patrol unit was led by Lieutenant Lewis, an officer with extensive experience in bike patrol. He has been on patrol since 1996 and became an instructor in 2001. He was trained by the Little Rock Police Department and applied that knowledge to help start the program at UALR.
One technique he taught UALR officers involves switching one’s weight when going up and down stairs. The officers also had to learn how to maneuver through traffic and large crowds.
Bike patrolling fosters a one-on-one relationship with the students and allows policemen to be seen more frequently. A bike patrol will serve as a deterrent to would-be-criminals, specifically theft-related crimes, because officers will be able to cover more ground than they would be able to on foot. They will also have access to areas in which vehicles are unable to travel.
Aside from the expected lower number of crimes, students and faculty can expect quicker response time to disturbances and emergencies. For instance, if there was an emergency outside the DSC, a bike patrolman could respond faster due to their proximity. If the situation was called in, the call has to undergo far more steps before it reaches the campus policemen.
The only disadvantage apparent to bicycles, officials said, is traveling in inclement weather. It is not possible for bicycles to trudge through snow, ice or a flash flood. Metal bikes also pose an electrocution risk during thunderstorms. On an average day, however, a bike will be more effective than a car.
Students can benefit from these additions the most by having a more familiar relationship with the officers.
Most times, civilians cannot or will not interact with a car-based cop because they don’t look approachable. Campus Police Chief Edward Smith said he made this program his top priority because it would create “community oriented” officers. These officers are just as powerful and carry the same jurisdiction as car cops, but feel a little more accessible.
“Students can always come up to us with questions or just to talk; it doesn’t even have to be about enforcement,” Lewis said, creating an image of a friendly, familiar policeman.
As for another benefit, Smith feels that more community-oriented officers will create a learning opportunity for students faulting in minor infractions. Here at the university, the DPS can approach the situations with understanding and teaching rather than worse consequences in the city’s hands.