By Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Community members may have noticed a few Military Police (MP) officers wandering the streets of the Mountain Post neighborhood this summer. MPs are hard to miss in their neon yellow shirts, shorts, bike helmets and brand new mountain bikes.
They are known as the Fort Carson Police Department (FCPD) Bike Patrol and they will patrol the cantonment area, post parks, shopping areas and, of course, neighborhood streets.
“We began the bike patrol on May 23, 2022 and will continue our operations throughout the summer,” said Capt. Brandon Graber, chief of patrol operations for the FCPD.
The bike patrol is not a pilot program. Graber said the bicycle deputies will continue to operate every summer as long as the department can fund it.
The group is made up of 11 officers, an officer in charge and a non-commissioned officer in charge, according to 1st Lt. Alex Lambert, OIC Bike Patrol.
“It was a great detail,” he said. “I have seen the positive impact the patrol can have on the community. When going to the parks and the community, the officers see a lot of people. »
Police officers can often be intimidating, especially if patrolling in vehicles, but police officers on bicycles tend to be more approachable, especially when interacting with neighborhood children and adult residents.
“The idea is to engage and educate, interact with children and help community members put faces to names,” Graber said.
This season’s bike patrol officers were chosen from the 759th Military Police Battalion, which volunteered for the duty. Once members were selected, they then completed an International Mountain Bike Police Association course before being trained in urban and off-road riding techniques, nutrition and bike repair.
The patrol operates Tuesday through Saturday, approximately 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. each week. Officers gather for a shift briefing at the Fort Carson police station, then proceed to neighborhoods. Typically, teams of two patrol different neighborhoods at a time, while an NCOIC supports the teams from a roving van, providing water, equipment, and all necessary parts and supplies.
“We split them this year,” Lambert said. “We cover the north side of the post, as well as housing areas and Iron Horse Park. We even moved patrols to residential areas near the golf course.
The department launched the bike patrol last year at the request of former emergency services director Col. Ranjini Danaraj and opted to continue the program this summer. The team even received new mountain bikes from specialty brands last month. Officers leave the Fort Carson police station fully equipped, including body armor and handguns.
As MPs, they have all the capabilities of their Patrol Vehicle counterparts.
“There are situations where we will send out the bike patrol to respond to a call, whether it’s a crime or some other incident, but community engagement remains the officers’ primary mission,” he said. said Lambert.
In addition to touring the grounds of this year’s Freedom Fest, the Bike Patrol also held an event for children on July 23, 2022, when they invited community members to hang out with the team and learn about bike safety. Attendees had the chance to ride the team certification course and ride with bike patrollers around the Iron Horse Park.
Reception of the strength of the bike has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Graber.
“We got a lot of feedback,” he said. “People love to see bike patrollers in neighborhoods. We received a ton of positive feedback on the Interactive Customer Rating (ICE).
After their time with the Bike Patrol, officers will return to their normal units and duties with the 759th MP Battalion. And, department heads plan to continue bike patrol in the summer of 2023.