In 2011, with the generous donations and assistance from our local merchants, the Ross Township Police implemented the Bicycle Unit. Currently six Patrol Officers are assigned to this unit. The officers are nationally certified after attending and successfully completing an intense forty (40) hour training course accredited by the International Police Mountain Bike Association. Additionally, Officer Immekus is one of only a few officers in Western Pennsylvania who is nationally certified as an IPMBA Instructor.
Ross Township currently utilizes the Jamis 24 speed mountain bikes. These bikes are outfitted in accordance to national standards for police cycles and are classified as emergency vehicles by PA statute. One obvious advantage of the bikes is the low cost of maintenance compared to traditional patrol vehicles; in addition bikes are more environmentally friendly.
The Bicycle Unit serves roles in both Community Policing as well as Patrol. While it is not practical with the township’s geography to utilize the bicycles full time, we have found the bikes to be effective in many functions. One of the major benefits has been increased personal interaction with our community; such as the 4th of July Parade, Community Day Activities, and Halloween Patrol.
Crime prevention is achieved through increased police presence and community cooperation; assignment of Bicycle Unit Officers in various neighborhoods many times is a successful means to that end. Bicycle patrol provides officers with increased visual and auditory awareness of their surroundings compared to those in patrol cars.
Bike Officers therefore have a better chance of locating criminal activity in progress and the violators are also less likely to notice officers approaching. This augmentation to patrol and investigations is often an effective edge in thwarting crime.
Bicycle Officers are often deployed in the business districts throughout hectic times like the Holiday Shopping Season. These officers are able to more efficiently navigate busy parking lots and mall traffic. Finally, bikes can also be sent out as needed for assistance with locating missing persons, searches in difficult terrain or for residential traffic enforcement.
The addition of police bicycle capabilities contributes to the full service citizens enjoy from the Ross Township Police Department.