In recent decades, the role of police officers on bicycles has expanded considerably. While many law enforcement organizations rely solely on motor vehicles, many metropolitan police organizations have integrated bicycles into their units. With almost 45 percent of police departments and 16 percent of sheriff’s organizations utilizing officers on bicycles, these officers have become much more common in recent years.
The advantages of a bicycle police officer include the ability to traverse congested roads, pursue fleeing suspects through a variety of environments, and quietly monitor or follow suspects. Many officers recognize the obvious advantage of performing their duties on a bicycle. The ability to arrive on a crime scene first or sneak up on individuals engaged in criminal activity makes bicycle police instrumental in patrolling the downtown areas of cities. Bicycle patrols also provide greater visibility and accessibility in crowded urban areas like parks, concerts or malls, allowing officers to immediately respond to emergencies.
Bicycle Police Job Description
Bicycle police jobs require officers who are capable of performing the following functions:
- Pursue fleeing individuals through roads, residences, or other narrow areas
- Quietly approach suspicious individuals
- Arrest and detain criminals until transportation can be arranged
- Provide first aid to injured or ailing members of the public
- Maintain optimal physical conditioning
- Instruct members of the public in how to behave at gatherings
- Monitor and follow suspects
- Manage a crime scene, take witness reports and question suspects
- Direct traffic during special events or traffic light malfunctions
How to Become a Bicycle Police Officer
Bicycle police officers must first meet the qualifications to serve as a law enforcement officer. While the exact requirements differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, almost all law enforcement agencies require:
- U.S. citizenship
- High school diploma or GED
- No felony convictions
- Valid driver’s license
- 18 years or older
Most police departments also require impeccable moral character, pristine driving histories, limited or no drug use and no incidents of domestic violence. While a high school education may provide the requisite skills necessary to pass the written exam, officers without a college degree may expect diminished pace of promotion and career advancement.
In addition to a written exam that will evaluate candidates’ mathematical and reading competencies, a physical exam will also be administered. This exam usually requires a timed 1.5 mile run, a sprint and a series of sit-ups or push-ups. Superior strength, stamina and agility are required to successfully pass these trials. Prospective bicycle police officers should expect to endure a grueling training program during police academy training.
Upon graduation, new recruits may request assignment to a bike patrol unit. These units receive additional training in bicycle handling and law enforcement procedures pertaining to managing arrests and pursuits while on a bike. Additional safety training is also provided to ensure that officers recognize risks and avoid them.
Bicycle Police Salary
Bicycle police are not usually differentiated from other patrol officers in terms of salary. In 2010, the annual average salary for patrol officers was $56,260. The top ten percent of patrol officers earned $84,980 or more.