University Police Adds Bicycle Patrol
Just months after The University of Scranton’s Public Safety Department officially began to operate as a full-service, professional University Police force, the department has added a bicycle patrol.
In November, University of Scranton police officers Lisa Kimes and Bob Marmo kicked off the department’s inaugural bicycle patrol, forgoing foot and car patrol for two specialized mountain bikes.
Donald Bergmann, director of public safety and University police chief, believes the new two-wheeled patrol will have several advantages for the police force, University students and the surrounding community.
“One of our challenges has been finding effective ways to increase our coverage,” Bergmann said. “We’ve done that in a couple of different ways, including increasing our fleet. The bicycle patrol is just one more way to improve coverage and get into areas that a car can’t.”
In addition, the patrol complements the University’s Jesuit initiative of sustainability, the police chief added.
For some time, the addition of a bicycle patrol has been an item of “community-wide interest,” Bergmann said, explaining it was recommended from both the department and University faculty members.
“I believe it will be one of our most positive projects,” he said.
Currently, officers Kimes and Marmo are the department’s first two volunteers for the patrol. Since both officers work day shift, the patrol will be most prevalent between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. — weather permitting. (The officers make the decision to ride the bike based on the weather and campus events.)
However, Bergmann hopes to expand the patrol to nights in the future, possibly as early as spring semester 2011.
Officers Kimes and Marmo will pedal Trek bicycles specifically designed for law enforcement, featuring battery-powered front and rear lights, as well as a siren. They will wear helmets and reflective bike uniforms designed for athletic use.
“One of the benefits of a bike patrol is that it is a little bit less intimidating than a patrol car,” said Acting Investigator Jonathan Davitt, who led the bicycle patrol’s proposal process. “The bike uniforms are more like plain clothes. It will make it easier for students and University community to approach the officers.”
What has been the early response of the bicycle patrol? Marmo says most students are caught off-guard to see him pedaling by.
“It’s unexpected right now seeing us on bikes,” he said. “I actually heard one student say ‘Wow, was that a cop on a bike?’ But they will get more familiar with us as we continue to patrol.”