As part of its commitment to community policing the Sheriff's Department has outfitted and trained several deputies as bicycle patrol officers. Bike units exist in the contract city of University Place as well as in the unincorporated area of the county.
Benefits to Citizens
The use of bicycles for police patrol provides many benefits to the citizens of the county. Since doors and windows do not surround them, deputies on bicycles are more approachable than those in cars. This promotes greater citizen involvement in law enforcement which is a major tenet of community oriented policing. In many situations, bicycle-mounted deputies can respond quicker and more efficiently than those on foot or even in a car. Often bicycle deputies are able to patrol where cars cannot go and where foot patrol would be impractical because of time and distance constraints.
Deputies patrol on mountain bikes that are either purchased by or donated to the department. Additional training and specialized uniforms and equipment are required for each deputy. Training involves: learning to ride the bike safely in all traffic and weather conditions, obstacle avoidance, slow speed maneuvering, law enforcement tactics and bike maintenance. During warm weather, deputies typically wear shorts while on bike patrol. They also have outer clothing that allows them to ride in all but the most severe weather.
Additional Duty Position
Deputies are assigned to the bike unit as an additional duty position. All of them have a primary job within the department such as patrol or traffic deputies, as detectives, or they are assigned to a specialized unit, (i.e. civil, narcotics, warrants, CST, etc).
Proactive Law Enforcement
Bicycle patrol is proactive law enforcement. That is, deputies are out looking to prevent criminal activity and intervene in criminal activity instead of just responding to a crime that has already occurred. During the summer, bicycles are also used to patrol in the parks. The bike unit is another tool that the Sheriff's Department is using to work with the community to improve the quality of life within Pierce County.