In the 1990's, the Egg Harbor Township Police Deparment began using a limited number of bicycles for supplemental patrol in the township to increase visibility. Shortly after implementation, the use of bicycles expanded to include community-based policing and increased visibility in shopping, commercial and residential areas of the township.
Today, there are a total of 9 bicycle officers who are deployed on a daily basis in all 5 of the Patrol Areas that EHTPD covers. The unit members are equipped with either a Trek or Fuji mountain bike, bike uniform and a safety helmet. The bikes are taken out on patrol and stored on bike racks on the rear of a marked patrol SUV. All of our bikes are Title 39 compliant, meaning they are equipped with front & rear light and an audible device.
The officers can patrol their assigned area, or get assigned to any area that is in need of a supplemental patrol. During patrol, they conduct property checks, check on suspicious persons & vehicles, keep checks on high crime areas and make stealth approaches to certain calls for service.
All unit members are trained and certified by the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA). This intensive five day course trains the rider in pursuit bicycle handling, bicycle safety, night patrol techniques, shooting, and maintenance.
Bicycle patrol provides greater visibility in high crime areas that are more difficult to patrol by motor vehicle, including public housing, retail centers, and recreation areas of the township. Officers have easier access to congested areas than officers in motor vehicles and cover a larger area than officers on foot. Bicycles offer an effective approach to crime surveillance due to their decreased visibility.
The Bicycle Unit has proven to be an invaluable tool for the Egg Harbor Township Police Department. The Community Policing aspect of Bicycle Patrol is utilized frequently with teaching and instruction given to young riders. These interactions have helped improve public relations and officer morale, lower sick-time while increasing productivity. In some situations, bicycle patrols have proven to be more cost-effective than motor vehicles.
Bicycles provide tremendous air quality and public health benefits. It is anticipated that the use of bicycles in patrol applications will generate a reduction of vehicle miles traveled. In most instances, the bicycles replace motor vehicles for patrol for several hours per day or longer.
We look to make the most effective use of our existing resources through programs like our Bicycle Unit, where patrol vehicles are equipped with Bicycles, which Officers will ride through neighborhoods or other limited access areas at times during their regular shift. Participation in special events, patrolling the Atlantic County Bike Path, and neighborhood patrols, all afford the public a chance to interact with the Bike Unit members.
One of the duties that the Egg Harbor Township Bicycle Unit has, is patrolling Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve. This is a 220-acre sanctuarylocated at 318 Zion Road is accessible to all. The mountain bikes the Officers ride are suited for the task of covering the rough terrain of the Nature Park.
The Police omnipresence that the Bicycle Unit offers is difficult to measure, but just as important.
Bicycle Patrol Duties:
Response to calls for service
Bicycle safety education
Current EHTPD Bicycle Unit Members:
Sgt. Robert Smith
Ofc. James MacPherson
Ofc. Gary Johnson
Ofc. Charles Davenport
Ofc. Christopher Leary
Ofc. Raymond Wilson
Ofc. Ronald Koons
Ofc. Tahsin Chowdhury