WMU News

Public safety bike patrol hits the pavement

June 8, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Police Officer Brian Alofs meets more folks in a week, these days, than he used to in a month.

One of Western Michigan University's first bicycle patrol officers, Alofs and colleague Andrew Bachmann hit the pavement last month on their new GT I-drive 5.0 full-suspension mountain bikes. As officials in WMU's Department of Public Safety had hoped, the bikes are inspiring interaction between the officers and members of the campus community.

"Everyone wants to come up and check out the bikes and say hi," says Alofs, who'll be patrolling the campus on two wheels through the summer and fall. "I really enjoy the opportunity to interact with people more, rather than just when I'm on a police call. The bikes definitely make us more approachable."

A donation last fall from the Kalamazoo office of Liberty Mutual Group provided funding for the bicycles, which were purchased at a significant discount from local retailer Alfred E. Bike. The University's Division of Student Affairs provided additional funding for equipment, uniforms and bike racks mounted on the officers' cars, while the WMU Bookstore donated bicycle locks.

"This initiative really was a community effort," says Ronald Ware, WMU's community police officer. "The bicycles allow our officers to access areas they might not otherwise be able to patrol, and they give the department a more visible presence on campus. We were thrilled to find out that Liberty Mutual and the campus community shared our vision."

Alofs and Bachmann were chosen for the patrol largely because their personalities are a good fit with the community-oriented policing they'll be doing. Alofs says the duo is enjoying the interaction and the exercise, despite the recent rains. His favorite part of the new beat? "I like the shorts," he grins.

Media contact: Jessica English, 616 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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