The Miami University Police Department has increased its bike and foot patrols with a focus on weekends and evenings. MUPD has also expanded its staff, adding three new officers this year.
The increase in patrols began last spring, with student safety and police visibility being the main goals.
“Being on foot and on a bicycle is a much more approachable means of patrol for an officer than being in a car,” said MUPD Captain Benjamin Spilman.
Much of Miami’s campus does not face a drivable street, meaning a significant amount of the population can be missed by a vehicle patrol. Spilman said patrolling off the streets allows not only for officers to see and approach students, but for students to easily see and approach police.
Sergeant Andy Rosenberger, a bike patrol officer and day shift supervisor, said five officers recently completed week-long training with the International Police Mountain Bike Association; four completed the training two weeks ago. All MUPD officers have received this training, which goes over everything from bike maintenance to safety maneuvers.
“We increased the number of bike patrol officers because these young officers wanted to get involved on bikes, they know the aspects of trying to be active while on duty…it’s so much easier for an officer to ride up and talk to people on a bike than it is sitting in a cruiser,” Rosenberger said.
Five new police mountain bikes have also been purchased.
The response time for a bike can sometimes be quicker than for a vehicle, especially in less maneuverable areas like an alleyway or a residential quad. Rosenberger estimated a bike’s response time could take 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on distance.
The new hires will also be essential to helping MUPD with other important duties.
To staff the Miami vs. Buffalo football game this past weekend, Spilman had 14 officers hired from different agencies around the area just to do traffic control and another 14 inside the stadium that were a mix of MUPD officers and others from the surrounding area.
Additionally, another officer is stationed in Armstrong Student Center overnight Thursday through Saturday and other staff is needed for emergency response. Patrol staff varies by day of the week and time of day: there are two or three patrol officers assigned to each of the three 10-hour shifts, with half of the second shift’s time overlapping with the third shift.
“As those demands continue to grow, we’ve kind of got to keep up staffing-wise to make sure that we can meet all those demands,” Spilman said.
One officer was hired at the beginning of October, and an officer returning to MUPD after leaving the department temporarily started last Monday. Spilman also said that MUPD is still looking to fill an additional post.
“I think students are really going to notice more presence [and] the more visibility of officers being everywhere,” said Rosenberger.