Bikes help MUPD get around

Sometimes, two wheels are better than four for the MU Police Department. In addition to the regular patrol cars seen around campus, the MU Police Department has a team of officers who patrol on bicycles.

The bike patrol force on campus has been around since 1993. MU Police Capt. Scott Richardson said the department encourages the increased presence of the bike patrol.

"Officers are closer to the community on bikes," Richardson said. "And bikes make getting around campus easier with all of the students and cars on campus."

Richardson said there is at least one bike patrol officer assigned to each shift. Capt. Chris Groves is the officer in charge of the bike patrol unit for the MU police department.

Officers interested in bike patrol undergo additional training to become a bike patrol officer. The International Police Mountain Bike Association sends a certified instructor to Columbia to train bike patrol officers.

According to IPMBA's official Web site, the class involves over 20 hours of on-bike time to develop and improve riding skills.

"The primary focus of the course is on bike handling in the line of duty," IMPBA Executive Director Maureen Becker said.

The course is divided into 11 units, including Bike Handling and Vehicular Cycling, Nighttime Patrol, and Fitness and Nutrition. Participants are taught to use the bike "as a tool for law enforcement," Becker said.

Officers devote at least 32 hours to the four-day course that includes learning to take down a suspect when on the bike and maneuvering steep slopes, stairs and potholes. According to IPMBA instructor Lt. Stanley Cosper of the New Orleans Police Department, trainees spend 25 percent of the course in the classroom viewing videos and going through question-and-answer sessions.

At the end of the course, officers take three tests: a written test; a road test which involves maneuvering stairs, slopes, and potholes; and a skills test which involves maneuvering cones in a parking lot, Cosper said.

To earn their certification officers must "successfully complete the practical test, earn a score of 76 percent or better on the written test, become members of IPMBA and submit applications for certification accompanied by the appropriate fee," as stated on IPMBA's Web site.

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