Aug 27, 2012
 

University Police Department to increase use of mountain bikes on USD campus

VERMILLION, S.D. -- In an effort to go green and to be seen, the University Police Department at the University of South Dakota is stepping up its use of mountain bikes on patrol this fall.
 

Eight UPD officers have completed the 32 training hours required to patrol campus on mountain bikes – three Specialized Rockhoppers equipped with headlights, front suspension and disc brakes. Sgt. Sam Nelsen, one of only two police officers in South Dakota to be a certified IPMBA (International Police Mountain Bike Association) instructor, provided the training. The mountain bike patrol is part of the overall community-oriented policing effort that allows UPD officers less restricted access to campus at all hours of the day and during special events.

“Bicycles are ideal for a college campus,” stated Dallas Schnack, assistant director, University Police Department. “If you’re driving a car, campus isn’t as open, has less public roadways and parking lots are usually congested. With mountain bikes, patrol officers have the added ability to move quietly and interact better with the community.”

As much as the addition of mountain bikes benefits the department with more visibility for police officers and less restrictions, there’s also an expected cost savings that comes with the new wheels.

“Outside of the startup costs of around $5,000, the mountain bikes will eliminate wear and tear on patrol cars, and reduce the amount of gas and maintenance costs annually,” added Pete Jensen, director, University Police Department. “Our response times should also be faster as the mountain bikes offer greater accessibility to certain areas of campus that were difficult to get to in a patrol car.”

According to Schnack, University Police began using bicycles as far back as 20 years ago but not to the extent that they’ll be used in the future.

“Over the years biking in general has really picked up,” Schnack said. “Twenty, even 10 years ago, biking wasn’t a program as it is now for many police departments.”

In addition to the mountain bikes, University Police has added a Polaris utility vehicle to its fleet. The utility vehicle is electric and doesn’t utilize fuel to drive around campus. It seats two and was acquired to address several concerns of the campus community, including an opportunity to efficiently patrol and respond to areas of campus that are inaccessible to larger vehicles.

“These are good assets for us,” added Schnack. “If you see an officer on a mountain bike or driving the utility vehicle, it starts a conversation. You don’t have that opportunity in a car. It’s not the same.”

University Police, located in the Davidson Building on the USD campus, has 10 full-time police officers, and four full-time and two part-time public safety staff members. Full-time University Police Officers are sworn in as Vermillion City Deputy Police Officers and must attend the South Dakota Law Enforcement Academy for training. For more information, please call (605) 677-5342 or email universitypolice@usd.edu.

 
About The University of South Dakota
 
Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota is designated as the only public liberal arts university in the state and is home to a comprehensive College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, the state's only School of Law, School of Medicine, the accredited Beacom School of Business and the College of Fine Arts. USD has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students taught by more than 400 faculty members. More information is available at www.usd.edu/press/news.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.
 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Phillip Carter
The University of South Dakota
605-677-6258
phillip.carter@usd.edu
 
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