UTPD launches new bike patrol unit

Natalie Sullivan

If you see UTPD officers in blue uniforms biking around campus, chances are they’re part of UTPD’s new bike patrol unit, which launched Wednesday.

UTPD Chief David Carter said the new unit was created as a way to increase the awareness and presence of officers on campus.

“The idea is really just to have a more visible presence on campus,” Carter said. “It’s about students feeling comfortable and seeing their officers.” 

The new unit has a fleet of 20 bikes, 12 of which were just purchased for the unit. According to Carter, five full-time officers will
patrol campus. 

“This is a full-time unit, so these guys are like a rapid response for us,” Carter said. “If we see a rising trend in incidents, we’ll focus on that area.”

Carter said officers will patrol on and near campus, especially during times when students are on campus. 

“We’ll be patrolling on campus, west of campus and really anywhere there’s a safety concern,” Carter said. “The unit will be on campus mostly on days when students are here, but they’ll be flexible and can respond on weekends and evenings as well.”

Carter said the bike unit will make it easier for officers to respond quickly to incidents and get to areas where patrol cars might not be a feasible mode of transportation. 

“Let’s face it — there are issues of traffic congestion, pedestrian congestion, bicycle congestion and all of those things make it difficult to patrol in a police car at times,” Carter said. “We’re looking to focus this unit in areas that are difficult to access with a patrol car, like the West Mall. If we were to come around [campus] in a car, it would take us a few extra minutes. But these guys on bikes — they’ll be able to beat the traffic.”

According to Carter, this is the first time UTPD has had a full-time bike unit. 

Carter said the plan for a bike unit has been under construction since the first few months of his appointment as police chief in July 2013.

“I’ve wanted to do something like this ever since I got here, but we had the chance to look at how we operate and actually have the staffing and manpower to make it possible,” Carter said. “We had eight new officers that got cut loose on their own, so that freed up some people for me to start this unit.” 

Carter said he hopes the new unit will encourage students to feel comfortable around officers and report any suspicious incidents. 

“I want students to know that we’re not doing this as a thing to clamp down on them, but we really just want the students to be comfortable and talk to the officers,” Carter said. “Sometimes, students notice something strange or suspicious, but then they don’t report it. This is a way to encourage students to let officers know what’s going on.”