The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is adding a new weapon to its crime fighting arsenal, and it comes with two wheels. Sheriffs are launching a full time bike unit, aimed at improving public safety and connection to the community.
For the new bike unit, a typical day at the office involves rolling down a dozen concrete steps, pedaling as fast as you can, running, then recovering quickly enough to draw your weapon and fire on a target accurately.
It is just one afternoon of a week-long bike training class put on by the Columbus Division of Police. Among the class of trainees are 10 members of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
In the past, the Sheriff has used auxiliary deputies to staff special events like the Ohio State Fair. Those deputies will be on the streets, in the townships, and for the first time, on two wheels.
“The big benefit for us is having bikes go places cruisers can't go. Another big benefit to the sheriff's office is going to be … getting back to community policing. An officer riding down the street through the neighborhood in a cruiser isn't as accessible to the community members as an officer on a bicycle," says Dan Johnson of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
Columbus Police have decades of experience with officers on bikes. Sergeant Duane Mabry says the benefits are many and the risks are what training is for.
"This exercise requires the officers to incorporate their training by dismounting, seeking cover, and engaging a target,” explains Mabry. “That’s why we give those skills here so they'll have better survivability on the street.”
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office hopes the new unit will put them on a path to a safer, more connected community.