Murfreesboro Post

Two wheels instead of four help MTSU police increase mobility

Master Patrol Officer Leroy Carter, left, of Middle Tennessee State University’s Police Department, guides an officer from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office through an obstacle during the first of three bike patrol training classes put on by MTSU Police for its officers and officers from surrounding departments this month on campus. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Wagner)

With several new officers on the force and a few years since the last training opportunity, MTSU’s Police Department offered three bike certification courses in May and June to get patrol officers certified to serve and protect on two wheels.

“We’ll train about 15 or 16 new officers over the course of the summer once all these new officers are trained,” said Capt. Jeff Martinez. “The plan going forward is to implement bike patrol into our regular shifts; use it for football games, special events, graduations; and then maybe to offer some overtime for us to have officers on the bike doing extra patrols and be seen in the community.” 

The four-day, 32-hour course includes passing an obstacle course test outlined by traffic cones, practical tests on the road and a 50-question assessment, said course instructor and Master Patrol Officer Leroy Carter. The course is certified by the International Police Mountain Biking Association.

The department also extended the training opportunity to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Murfreesboro Police Department and Goodlettsville Police Department.

“Officers on bicycle patrol provide a different level of service,” said MTSU Police Chief Ed Kaup. “Not only does the utility of a bicycle allow our officers to patrol places our vehicles don’t traditionally drive, but it also tends to make our officers more approachable on campus. Add in the health benefits for our officers, and I think everybody wins.”

With MTSU hosting 16 high school graduations at the Murphy Center this spring, having bicycle patrols will add another visible and mobile layer of security.

Martinez said adding patrols on bike, in addition to foot and vehicle patrol, also has advantages that will allow departments to offer a fuller blanket of protection to the campus community.

“For some of these bigger events, it’s sometimes easier to get through the crowds or parking lots because you can easily get around pedestrians,” Martinez said. “You can really see more. You don’t have the vehicle obstructions that are in the way like the mirrors, the radar units, the in-car video — all that stuff that kind obstructs your view. You’re also faster than being on foot.” 

Carter said he enjoys his role as an instructor of sharing knowledge with his fellow officers and getting them prepared to ride in a safe manner.

“MTSU is a pretty flat campus, so almost all areas are good for riding,” Carter said about the training. “Of all the obstacles, everyone hates the nine-foot box, so that’s the favorite spot.”

Officers must complete three rotations on the seven-foot-long bicycles inside a nine-by-nine-foot “box” outlined by traffic cones to pass the certification, Carter said.

MTSU Police officer Jad Dishner said it had been a long time since he had ridden a bike before the course and agreed with the challenge of the box.

“I would say definitely the boxes I think have been challenging for everybody here,” Dishner said. “Overall, it’s been great to come out here and work with RCSO and all the partners here. Everybody’s been really encouraging, and it’s been a pretty positive environment to learn in.” 

Master Patrol Officer Leroy Carter, right, of Middle Tennessee State University’s Police Department and MTSU officer Jad Dishner, left, take pause from a recent bicycle patrol training session on campus. Dishner will be one of 15 to 16 MTSU officers to get certified in the next few months. Carter will instruct three bike patrol training classes this May and June for MTSU Police officers and extended to officers from surrounding departments, including the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Murfreesboro Police Department and Goodlettsville Police Department. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Wagner)