Seven officers successfully completed the UT Police Department’s bicycle patrol training program this week.
Participants from three agencies wove through obstacle courses, tackled stairs, jumped curbs and rode more than 80 miles in their quest to become certified bicycle officers through the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T) Commission.
The 40-hour course gives officers a way to be more mobile and nimble and better engage with the communities they serve.
“It makes us more approachable,” said Ashley Crabtree, a patrol officer with the Athens Police Department, who volunteered to take the training on behalf of her department. “It looked like it would be more fun and be a way to get more contact with a lot of people around town.”
Other course participants included Savana Casteel, patrol office with the Athens Police Department; Jamie Fialkowski, community engagement unit officer with the Mt. Juliet Police Department; UTPD Corporal Lester Gonzalez; UTPD Officer Eddy Amaro Carrion; UTPD Officer Garrett English and UTPD Officer Ethan Long.
UTPD Corporals Ben Doty and John Platt taught the course, which is in its second year.
The skills learned will help officers more effectively navigate tight corners and situations where they don’t have a lot of room, Doty said. Those include sporting events, large crowds, parties, parades, and other special events. The officers also learned how to secure bicycles, check the tires, handle emergency stops, and completed skills and written tests.
Several members of UTPD’s Strategic Initiatives Unit took the course to increase their bicycle knowledge. The unit often conducts bicycle operations on the UT campus.
“The class surpassed our expectations,” said UTPD’s Gonzalez and an SIU member. “The instruction and the riding and skills portion of the class has been challenging.”
For Fialkowski of Mt. Juliet Police Department, becoming a bicycle officer has an added benefit: built-in exercise.
“I’d rather be riding a bike during a special event instead of sitting in a car,” he said.