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Police Bike Patrol

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OUPD Bike Patrol

MPO Officer Kim Kerr pauses on bike patrol to field a student's question.


The first “recalled” use of bicycles for campus patrol was in the mid-1980s. OUPD’s Administrative Sergeant, Duncan Burgess, began riding his own bike in civilian clothes on patrol to address bike theft and a series of incidents involving a male who was riding his bicycle past OU coeds and “grabbing” at them. Burgess was absolutely convinced that bike patrol was viable and desirable, and would often ride just to ensure that an officer was seen on a bike regularly. In large measure, he should be recognized for nurturing the idea until the department was able to implement it in an organized manner.


By the late 1980s, bicycle policing had been proven effective in several progressive jurisdictions (primarily on the west coast) and OUPD was eager to apply those methods in the campus setting, prompting resumption of experimentation using bikes on an ad hoc basis. At the time, the Norman campus was plagued with numerous car burglaries which frequently centered around the theft of vehicle “T-Tops”. The very first measured success of OUPD using officers on bikes was the drastic reduction of vehicle burglaries on campus.

The formal bicycle policing program at OUPD began on Monday, June 18th, 1990, under Chief Lee Ivy, using two unclaimed/impounded bicycles, which helped prove the efficacy of use, but also highlighted the need for dependable and appropriate equipment.  Based on Burgess’ proof that bikes could be an effective tactic, two Bianchi mountain bikes and parts/laboer were donated by two local bike dealers. Bike officers proved themselves practical and effective in terms of personal contact and interaction with members of the campus community.


Riding and patrolling in this manner demonstrated many benefits including greatly enhanced mobility, especially in crowd and special event situations. The department administration enthusiastically endorsed the concept and began to solicit support from the University for an expanded program. Funds were obtained and special purpose Raleigh bikes and equipment were purchased by the department.


In mid-September, 1991, Lieutenant Duncan Burgess and Sergeant Tim Tucker were sent to Seattle to attend a police bike program management school. Seattle’s police bicycle program was one of the very first in the nation and their supervisors were nationally recognized authorities in the specialty. In mid-August, 1992, Sergeant Tim Tucker and Corporal Ken Dominic were sent to the University of Colorado Police Department in Boulder to attend the “Police Mountain Biking” course. Using this course and other resources, Dominic developed and presented an internal training program for OUPD officers prior to putting them on the street with the new bike equipment in December 1992.


Dominic’s three-day bike course was certified by the Oklahoma Council for Law Enforcement and Training (CLEET) on June 10, 1993. Dominic and Tucker continued to provide training at OUPD and took the school “on the road” across the state, training officers from many other Oklahoma agencies.


Having developed the ability to keep an officer on bike patrol twenty-four hours daily, the department solicited volunteers for this specialty and fielded the first fully trained and equipped bike patrol in Oklahoma in 1993. The original eight officers were equipped with first generation Raleigh 500 model “police” mountain bicycles.

In December, 1994, OUPD and Norman Police Department instructors teamed for the first time presenting the Basic Police Mountain Bike Course. The OUPD Instructors were Dominic and Tucker. The Norman Police department Instructors were Sean Elroy and Harold Nicholson. This successful collaboration between the two agencies was to become a common occurrence, which helped to set the stage for later joint programs. Between 1992 and 1999, in addition to Dominic and Tucker, other OUPD Officers serving as OUPD Basic Police Mountain Bike Instructors included Eric Grubbs, Kim Kerr, Eric Lehenbauer, John Ivey, Mark McCain, Ralph Sade, Cory Sutton, and Doug Young.


Photo of an early police bike school held at OU.

Bike officers have repeatedly demonstrated their value as a rapid response resource at football games, concerts, and numerous other special events on campus. An excellent working relationship with the bike squads at the Norman Police Department and Cleveland County Sheriff's Office (many of whose officers were trained in the OUPD course) has developed, and officers from the various agencies have regularly ridden in teams for events where they had mutual interests and overlapping jurisdictions. Bike officers routinely assist at and participate in special events including parades, cross-country rides, air shows, and holiday event security across the central Oklahoma area working with a number of other agencies.

In late 1997, a new group of six full-time bike officers was selected. Headed by Sergeant Ken Dominic, these officers worked four ten hour shifts per week. The bike patrol program has not since changed significantly in scope. OUPD’s bicycle fleet was also upgraded in December, 1997 with the acquisition of eight Gary Fisher Joshua X-1 bikes (manufactured by Trek). The Joshua X-1 was the first full-suspension mountain bike purchased from a local vendor by OUPD. Also in 1997, the newly purchased (for full-time bike officers) Gortex-fabric two-piece bike gear, with reflective piping, was so popular that OUPD subsequently bought the two-piece suits as foul-weather gear for all patrol officers


In April, 1998, CSO Matthew E. Engelbrecht was the first OUPD Community Service Officer allowed to attend the Basic Police Mountain Bike Course. Engelbrecht, and later other bike-certified CSOs, established themselves as a significant force multipliers in patrolling the campus during the evening and early morning hours.


Following a tornado that ravaged the City of Moore on May 3, 1999, OUPD officers worked twelve hour shifts on bike patrolling damaged areas of that city. OUPD officers were partnered with Moore Police bike officers to provide a police presence inside the perimeter of the most damaged areas of the city which were closed to non-law enforcement personnel during hours of darkness to prevent looting. The bikes provided officers the ability to patrol quickly and silently, resulting in the location and apprehension of looters.


MPO Jay Littlejohn hands a bike safety brochure to an OU student.

In 2000, after Officer James Whited and, later, Officer Doug Young completed the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) Instructor Course, the department adopted the instructional methodology and standards of the IPMBA. This did not replace the CLEET curriculum but did transform OUPD into a nationally recognized resource for teaching policing on bicycles that is also CLEET-approved. OUPD updated the bicycle fleet in 2002 with 10 black Police Cannondale Jekyll full-suspension mountain bikes fully outfitted with everything a police officer would need on patrol. Officers were also outfitted with the latest bike uniforms so they could continue to ride year round.


In 2008, SGT Jay Littlejohn attended the IPMBA Instructor Course and (as of 2014) continues to teach numerous bike schools each year, locally and across the state, in the same manner as his predecessors. OUPD has and will continue to provide the latest in training at the highest level of excellence for which OUPD is known.


The bike program also provides outstanding opportunities for outreach, with officers speaking to groups such as elementary school classes and scout units regarding safe bicycling and participating in and organizing bike rodeos for the community. Bicycle officers are frequently approached by students, faculty, and staff who bike and are interested in our equipment and our activities, and it is not at all unusual for a continuing relationship to develop out of a casual approach and question. Bicycles are an accepted and proven component of policing the University of Oklahoma Norman Campus today and will continue to be into the future./


Bike patrol on the Norman Campus.