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Bike patrols put friendly face on campus security

Have bike, will travel.

That’s the word, anyway, for some members of the campus security department, who perform patrols on Trek bicycles, moving across the sprawling campus with ease.

“The bicycle patrol can do some things that security vehicles cannot,” said Chris Overton, evening shift sergeant and bicycle patrol coordinator for the security office.

Changes in the campus, such as expanded green spaces and street closures, have made the versatility of the bike patrols particularly helpful.

The bicycle patrol was instituted in 1991, when the security department was awarded a $300 grant to purchase two Huffy 10-speed bikes. These days, anywhere from six to 15 or more officers may take shifts on the bike patrol between April and October; numbers ramp up as the weather gets nicer.

For Overton, who has patrolled on the bike and is a recreational bike rider, as well, the bike patrol creates more of a security presence on campus, acting as a force multiplier and enhancing security in both obvious and subtle ways.

“You can cut across campus quickly and quietly,” he said.

Bicycling security officers can use that speed and stealth. Overton recalled one evening when Officer Leo Wright was patrolling a parking garage and smelled marijuana. It took him very little time to locate the car, where two figures were hunched in the front seat.

“He stopped the bike literally behind the vehicle,” Overton said. “He was knocking on the window before they even looked up.” The two people still had marijuana blunts in their hands, Overton said.

Wright, who has been on the patrol for 14 years, says the patrol is a valuable addition to campus security efforts.

“We can get places faster, and with more visibility, and we can go places that the cars can’t go,” Wright said.

In addition, Overton said, the bicyclists increase visibility and often get to interact in a friendly manner with UNMC staff, faculty and students.

“It is well received,” Overton said. “People will stop and chat with us.”

Officers who wish to join the bike patrol must review policies and procedures and take a written exam on bike safety and maintenance, Overton said.

“Of course, safety is always paramount.”

2 comments

  1. Justin says:

    Hmmm… Not sure those two look super friendly. 🙂 (I'm sure they are though when they're not posing for a picture…)

  2. Tina Hovorka says:

    I think this is great. I agree that it is a wonderful "green" way to increase coverage without increasing fuel cost weather permitting while also promoting positive physical activity.

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