Oak Harbor residents may see police officers on electric bikes.
The Oak Harbor Police Department purchased three electric bikes from Rad Power Bikes to use in patrol. Officers are using the bikes to patrol the parks, downtown and residential areas.
Officers on bikes have greater maneuverability in the downtown area and parks and are more visible than a foot patrol, Chief Kevin Dresker said.
The bikes are also quieter than a car and, if necessary, officers can stealthily approach criminal activity.
Officers on the electric bikes are able to ride “longer and, if needed, faster and retain energy,” Dresker said.
Dresker recalled early in his law enforcement career having to manage his energy on a regular bike when responding to calls, and he was inspired to purchase the electric bikes after riding one his friends owned.
According to Dresker, the new bikes have already proved instrumental in one arrest. At 1:48 a.m. Feb. 27, Officer Greg Wendell was near Windjammer Park when he received a call about a suspicious vehicle near Anchor Drive. Wendell was able to arrive on scene within 10 minutes, search the area and arrest the driver. Dresker said the arrest probably would not have happened without the electric bike.
School Resource Officer Jeremy Andreano recently rode one of the bikes for 45 miles while looking for a potential vehicle break-in suspect and patrolling the residential areas.
Andreano said he had better awareness of his surroundings while on a bike.
“You can hear a lot more on a bike than in a patrol car,” officer Andreano said.
Andreano said he prefers patrolling in the parks because children get to ask him questions.
While riding a bike might come naturally, officers do have to undergo training before using them in patrol.
They need to learn different ways of dismounting in case they need to pursue a person on foot, how to approach a vehicle, how to go up and down stairs and where to position the bike when speaking to people.
Police officer Scott Johnson needs to complete the training, but said he is looking forward to riding in the summer.
The bikes have a top speed of about 20 mph on flat ground. There are five modes on the bikes that adjust the level of assistance a rider receives while peddling, and an option to throttle the bikes similar to a motorcycle.
The bikes cost about $1,100 each and will receive Oak Harbor Police Department decals in the future.