Midlothian’s Bike Patrol Is Preventing Crime
MIDLOTHIAN – You might have seen the Midlothian Police Department’s Bike Patrol Team “up and riding” recently, but you might not know half of the bike team is female.
Three out of the six officers who are a part of the unit are female officers within the department. All have full-time duty assignments like Patrol, CID, and the Training Division.
Midlothian Commander Andy Vaughan, PD Patrol Division said the six team members took this role on as an additional assignment.
The Bike Unit falls under the command of Vaughan, but the day-to-day management and supervision is handled by one of the female team members Sergeant Stephanie Hanson. Commander Vaughan said Hanson played an integral role in implementing the program last summer. Other members include Sergeant Kyle Boyd, Officer Nick Vanderkar, Officer Marissa Frazer, Officer Tiffany Delle, and Officer Christopher Malliband.
“The Bike Unit was created as a pro-active new approach to crime prevention as the city grows in general, but specifically, to increase police presence and provide safety to our citizens,” Vaughan said.
This also applies to the bike unit’s presence at the city’s many special events. Since developing the unit, it has been deployed at a number of concerts and events like the recent Heritage Celebration and the Trick or Treat held at the city square.
“We plan to utilize them at all events where we have large crowds gathering,” Vaughan added.
Bike Unit Rapid Response
Bikes can deploy where traditional patrol vehicles can’t, and they offer the police department the ability to cover more area than an officer typically could on foot.
“Deploying bikes also allows us to respond more rapidly,” Vaughan explained. “We can now be more visible and cover a larger area in locations where a squad car is not optimal or in areas, we simply can’t drive the squad car.”
Another benefit to the Bike Unit is that it makes officers more “approachable” or accessible to the citizens. The Midlothian Police Department already encourages its officers to roll the windows down, get out of their vehicles and engage citizens as often as they can.
“We understand that a squad car door and tinted windows can give the unintended appearance of a barrier between us and citizens,” Vaughan said. “Creating the Bike Unit allowed us to sort of naturally create more police to citizen interaction and it definitely provides the approachable appearance we want.”
The Bike Unit will be deployed for regular patrols of the city’s major shopping areas during the holiday season. Their primary objective will be to deter thefts from inside stores, auto thefts/burglaries in the parking lot and to act as general deterrent to crime by being highly visible in and around local businesses.
“I am excited that we have been able to develop a Bike Patrol program here at Midlothian Police Department,” concluded Assistant Police Chief Scott Brown. “We are always striving to find ways to improve our effectiveness and increase positive interactions with our community, and the Bikes will be a tremendous resource in this capacity. As the City continues to develop the downtown district, retail areas, and various entertainment venues – such as our parks and athletic fields – the Bike Patrol officers will help us increase our visibility and make these areas safer. The officers that have volunteered to serve in this Unit tend to be genuinely invested in community-based policing. They are skilled communicators and love interacting with our citizens. But they are also good cops that recognize and respond to street-level crimes as necessary.”