After a nearly eight-year hiatus, the Madison Township Police Department will once again roll out its bicycle patrol unit.
Budget cuts and staffing shortages forced the department to suspend the bicycle patrol unit after money from a federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant ran out, according to interim Capt. James Dean, but with additional resources made available over the past year from the passage of a police levy, the department has one officer trained and back on his bike, with others preparing to join him.
"Officer Jacob Short is an experienced bike officer and shows good presence and will be happy to talk with the community about preventive measures in regards to the current concerns of wrongful activities," Dean said.
"Officer Short will be the only one for now, yet we are discussing additional officers that are already certified to participate as well. When the schedule permits, we would like to have more involved."
Trustee Gary McDonald, who oversaw the bicycle patrol unit in the late 1990s before he retired from the police department, said the unit is a cost-effective crime-fighting and community outreach tool.
"They provide great response and are a great public relations tool," McDonald said.
"The bike patrol unit is cost-effective, too; it's low maintenance, stealth in nature and another valuable tool for law enforcement in combating crime.
"They are more apt to see, hear, smell and observe a lot more on a bicycle than in a patrol car," he said of the bike patrol officers.
"Citizens also have much more of a comfort level when communicating with bike officers."
For now, the bicycle patrol unit will operate primarily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the A and B company shifts, during the day and into the evening.
Dean said it may be possible to extend the unit into C company as is necessary or appropriate.
"A and B companies will be primary patrols because of the more contact opportunities during those hours," Dean said.