Just shy of a year ago, the COPS Office was gearing up to head to Richmond, Virginia, for the 21st Annual Conference of the International Police Mountain Bike Association. Unfortunately, with fears of a government shut-down looming, all government travel was canceled. Fiscal year 2012, however, tells a different story for the COPS Office. The Department of Justice’s budget was approved by Congress before the end of 2011, allowing the COPS Office to confidently organize both travel plans and grant programs earlier than in recent years.
At the conference, along with a grant workshop, COPS Office Principal Deputy Director Josh Ederheimer will be delivering the keynote speech, and in that role he will call attention to law enforcement’s often over-looked bicycle officers. Bike police play an integral role in many elements of community patrol. He says, “There are many technical advantages to using bikes because they are swift and silent, and are extremely maneuverable.” As a former police officer for over two decades, Mr. Ederheimer adds that “bikes are also easily deployed, both in urban streets and rustic parks.”
Beyond respect in the field, bike police have earned a tremendous amount of public support for many reasons. As communities across the country face monetary constraints and constant budget cuts, community members realize the impact that a bike patrol can have while being cost-savings, and healthy, alternative to car patrol. While a patrol car costs thousands of dollars to both purchase and maintain, bikes and the necessary equipment to ride one, are a mere fraction of the price. Once purchased, bikes allow officers to be active on the street without any barriers. Simultaneously, cities are progressing toward being much more bicycle-friendly, allowing more benefits for officers. Mr. Ederheimer notes that many people “now view bikes as a community policing vehicle, much like the old horse-mounted units.” People are much more used to seeing a patrol officer breeze by on a bike than they were in the past.
Mr. Ederheimer will touch on all of these points and others when he delivers remarks at the conference later this spring. As we near the conference, registration is still open and available here. This year’s conference-goers can expect effective, proven, and skill-enhancing training and certification classes, insightful and informative workshops, experienced and respected instructors, and even dynamic on-bike sessions. This is sure to be an unparalleled event, specific to bike officers and designed to offer unique opportunities and practical, applicable experiences.
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