The bike patrol strives for high visibility during daylight hours and a low profile at night.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
COLUMBIANA -- In their fourth season on the road, Columbiana Police Department's bike patrol officers are still surprising a few people.
"We have hand-held radar guns now," Patrolman Chris Dailey said. "People are usually a little embarrassed. They don't expect to be stopped by an officer on a bicycle."
So far this season, most of the bike patrol arrests have been traffic citations. Dailey said in the past they have arrested people for drug possession, people having open containers of alcohol in their vehicles, and those who were wanted for other offenses.
"Everyone seems to be happy we're out there," Dailey said. "I still haven't heard anything negative."
Dailey said the bike patrol officers aim to be highly visible during the day and are sometimes asked to speak about the bike patrol at civic club and school meetings.
At night, however, they try to keep a low profile and rely on the element of surprise to catch law breakers. In early evening hours they keep a close watch on downtown businesses that stay open late, he said.
No pattern: The bike patrol officers spend five hours at a time on the road, patrolling primarily the downtown area and Firestone Park. Dailey said they work irregular shifts so there is no pattern to their patrolling.
They also work special events such as the July 4 activities in Firestone Park and the annual street fair.
The department's auxiliary force has started its own bike patrol program, he said.
Dailey and Sgt. Jim Ewing started the bike patrol in 1998, using their own bicycles and equipment. In 1999, Patrolman Wade Boley joined them and the department purchased rugged mountain bikes designed and equipped for law enforcement use.
Soon after the new bicycles arrived, Ewing, Dailey and Boley attended a weeklong training session that included agility training and road time through Cleveland Metroparks and downtown Cleveland.
Patrolman Ryan Pike recently completed a similar program at the University of Akron and will soon be riding a bike purchased by the department.