Bike team: Patrols city, detects and deters crime, catches criminals

The Elk River Police Department established a police mountain bike team in 1998. The purpose of a police bike team is to provide an additional resource to the police department to patrol the city, detect and deter crime, and apprehend criminals.
The characteristics of police mountain bikes, mobility and stealth, make them excellent tools for patrolling areas of the city that may be experiencing criminal activity such as vandalism, theft and drug activity. Members of the bike team also patrol downtown concerts, high school football games, the county fair, 4th of July and other community events.
The police department currently has 10 officers who are members of the bike team. These officers attend a demanding police mountain bike training school which provides them with the necessary skills to safely and effectively use bicycles at a level exceeding the average bicyclist’s capabilities. The team is commanded by Capt. Ron Nierenhausen. Officer Adam Bebeau is the team leader, responsible for equipment maintenance, purchasing and daily team supervision and direction.
Most of the police department’s squads are equipped with receiver hitches, enabling officers to mount bike racks on their squads. Officers can patrol the city and respond to calls as they typically do. When the need or opportunity presents itself, officers can deploy their mountain bikes to patrol neighborhoods, businesses, parks or other remote areas of the city.
During a recent bike team saturation detail, the entire team was deployed to various neighborhoods experiencing problems with thefts from vehicles and garages, and vandalism. During a four-hour period the team located 197 unsecure vehicles (six with keys inside), and 18 open garage doors. Bike team officers secured the vehicles and left informational cards explaining that the owners were potential crime targets.
Owners of some of the vehicles secured by officers with the keys inside later called the police department to complain about the inconvenience. Our view is having your car stolen would be significantly more inconvenient. The police department later unlocked the cars without charge. One resident called to thank the police department for our efforts.
The number of unsecure cars and garages was very disappointing. Every week the paper contains crime reports about residents who are victimized by theft. The police department and bike team will continue to do its part to educate the public and apprehend criminals.
We would like to thank area businesses and citizens including Great River Energy who have made charitable donations to the police bike team, enabling it to upgrade equipment.  — Brad Rolfe, Elk River chief of police