UPDATE: Signal Mtn. bike patrols receive new gear
The Signal Mountain Police Department is increasing their presence in the community by adding new patrols. However, these units will not be patrolling in cruisers, they will be on bicycles.
UPDATE: The Signal Mountain Police Department's bike program isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
A spokesperson for the department posted on Facebook that the department has been able to find the funds to buy Sgt. Tim Foster and Office Aaron Bayer two Fuji Police Bikes and new uniforms.
"The pilot bike program we have been testing has been so overwhelming popular we found the funds at the end of this budget year to buy Sgt. Foster and Officer Bayer two fully tricked out Fuji Police Bikes and new uniforms," the spokesperson said. "This program is the result of the ideas and initiatives of the officers themselves. More good things to come with this program!"
PREVIOUS STORY: The Signal Mountain Police Department is increasing their presence in the community by adding new patrols. However, these units will not be patrolling in cruisers, they will be on bicycles.
As the weather warms up, more of people will be outside. Many visit Signal Mountain. If you plan a visit on the weekends, you may be met with police officers on two wheels instead of four.
Drive through Signal Mountain and you can't miss the patrol cars keeping the community safe. Officers want to engage with the community, but for those working after hours it's not as easy.
"It’s really hard on night shift just because we don't see a lot of people. Everyone is asleep,” said Officer Aaron Bayer.
Bayer and Sergeant Tim Foster set out to find another approach.
"We just said ‘hey wouldn't it be cool to have a bike unit up here?’"
The two officers mapped out a plan, presented it to the police chief and launched a pilot bike patrol program on the weekends.
"The more we researched it and thought about it and thought it through, it actually made a lot of sense for this area and the type of people we serve and the recreation we have,” Bayer explained.
The main goal is to increase community engagement, not necessarily enforcement. However, they do think it will help reduce crime at local parks, including break-ins at Rainbow Lake and Signal Point.
"I think that can almost be eliminated while we're out here, knowing that we're out here watching. Especially on a bicycle not knowing where we're going to pop up,” Sgt. Foster said.
Already, in the first weekend, Sgt. Foster noticed a change.
"It was at least ten times more people that we've interacted with,” he said.
The bike patrols also have access to areas that a car doesn't, such as trails, to respond faster and help people in need.
"I carry medical supplies and we have access to NARCAN just your bare bones stuff,” Bayer explained.
More importantly, it's face to face interaction that Bayer says bridges the gap with the community and law enforcement.
"Being able to be out here in the daylight, getting some exercise, getting to talk to folks and other people in the community and getting to know our visitors, it really means a lot to me. It’s the reason why we get into law enforcement,” he said.
Right now, bike patrols on Signal Mountain will only be on the weekends. The police department will determine if they will continue the program after the summer season.
The officers are currently using their own personal bikes, but if the program is successful, they'll work with the town council to see if can be included in the budget.