Hilliard Police training additional officers for bike patrol

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A revitalization of Hilliard’s downtown streets is leading to changes in how the city is policed.

Several officers were trained Monday on the advantages and vulnerabilities of bike patrols.

Hilliard’s current five-officer bike unit will soon more than double. The police garage is now equipped with 12 officer bikes.

"You don't have the air conditioner and the engine blocking. You can hear fights, you can hear other things going on,” Officer Ron Burkitt said. "You're more exposed to all elements."

Officer Burkitt explained to several new bike unit recruits that rushing into a volatile situation can be especially dangerous with the amount of exposure officers have on a bike rather than in a cruiser.

Lt. Ron Clark said the department’s bike tires will see hundreds of patrol hours thanks to a booming downtown.

Hilliard building and zoning officials say they're seeing applications for even more businesses, buildings and dining.

The Hilliard Recreation Department added the new Station Park this year to two others and has hosted several concerts already.

Now police are responding to the revitalization and crowds with a heavier concentration on nimble patrolling.

"On Thursday nights we could have 600 people downtown which we didn't have before,” Clark said. “A lot of restaurants are expanding and moving to downtown Hilliard so within the next five years it’s going to be a very popular place."

Plus, outside of the metal and windows of a car officers are able to chat with people.

"You're much more approachable on the bicycle,” Officer Burkitt said.