Bike Patrol Program Improves Safety on Campus.

Silence falls over campus as the sun sets behind the horizon. All the students and faculty have gone home for the day, except for a few facility service workers. Senior Security Officer Mark McCue patrols the grounds on his bike, keeping a look out for trespassers, and making sure everyone and everything on campus is safe.

The Black Hills State University Bike Patrol program was founded in the spring of 2015. Director of Public Safety Phil Pesheck started the program to improve the safety of students and faculty members. Both he and McCue had previous experience working with other bike patrol programs and knew the value of having one on campus.

The program provides many benefits. Riding a bike cuts down on maintenance and fuel costs for department vehicles. In addition to saving money for the university, bike patrol allows McCue to access areas on campus that a vehicle cannot.

Bike patrol programs have been around for decades, cutting down on crime and making officers more accessible to the public. According to an article in Campus Safety Magazine, the first bike patrol program began in Seattle in the late 1980s as a way to combat the gridlock of a downtown construction project. The use of bike patrol programs on college campuses was implemented shortly after, and officers saw improvements in safety and a reduction in crime.

Prior to coming to BHSU, McCue was an officer for the Alliance Police Department in Nebraska. He worked with and supervised many bike officers during his time with the department. McCue also rides a bike during his free time. His experience on and off duty has given him the opportunity put his skills to use with the campus bike program. McCue has logged more than 1,800 miles on his bike since May 2015. He averages about 20 miles per shift.

There are several advantages to being a bike patrol officer. BHSU’s small campus size makes it easier for McCue to get where he needs to go in a timely manner.

“BH is the perfect size because it’s not too big and not too small,” said McCue.

He uses the many sidewalks and byways that run through campus. This makes him more approachable for students, faculty and guests. The bike also gives him the advantage of sneaking up on potential suspects. Since McCue’s shift runs from late afternoon to early morning, the darkness gives him the upper hand.

“There have been several cases so far, especially in the hours of darkness, where we’ve caught trespassers in prohibited areas,” McCue said.

The bike allows him to approach anyone committing crimes without them knowing of his presence.

The program has greatly improved security on campus, but there have been some disadvantages. The unpredictable weather in the Black Hills can sometimes create difficulties for anyone riding a bike. The bike’s small size also limits an officer’sability to transport equipment or travel long distances. McCue carries a small rear bag on his bike that holds first aid supplies, but a larger vehicle is required if he needs to move larger objects or take longer trips off campus.

There has been a positive response from students and faculty regarding the program. McCue said that one facility services worker approached him and made comments about seeing him several times an hour during his shift. Students have taken notice to McCue’s presence on campus as well.

“A lot of them have commented that it’s neat to see me riding around, being visible,” McCue said.

The bike patrol program has been a success for BHSU in such a short time. There is a feeling of security knowing that Officer McCue is on patrol, keeping everyone safe and making his presence known every time he rides his bike around campus.