by Lisa Tome
Less than a year ago, Perryville police officer David Leas took a 32-hour course, learning all the ins and outs of being a bicycle officer.
Recently he wrapped up a second course, one which will save the department money. Leas learned how to repair his and the other bikes being used by officers in the department.
With approval from Chief Allen Miller, he began researching bicycle repair courses. After finding a course in Towson, Leas attended the class weekly for seven weeks. He learned about diagnosing problems, basic and complex bike repairs and more. "I worked on helicopters in the National Guard," said Leas, who began the class with a mechanical background. "I have a long history of fixing things." Even before he took the course, he worked on the department bikes and those of children in town and at the Perryville Police Department's Outreach program. He may teach bike repairs and bike safety at Outreach in the coming months.
"Four years ago, we had one bike. Now we have six," said Chief Miller. He explained that it saves on fuel and allows officers on bikes more interaction with the public. The town had an annual contract with a company for bike repairs. Now that Leas is certified to fix bicycles, the town will save an estimated $1,000 annually on maintenance and repairs.
"On a bike, I'm more approachable," said Leas. He also urges children to wear proper safety equipment.
Leas used pedal power, patrolling 268 miles on a bike last year. He likes bike patrol and the health benefits.
"It's easy to sneak up on a criminal on a bike," said Miller.
The department currently has four officers, including Leas certified for bike patrol. Additional officers will be trained soon. This spring, the department will expand its bike patrol. They will incorporate speed enforcement into that aspect of the job.
"We will run radar on bikes when our cordless radar units arrive," said Chief Miller. He won't disclose how that will work but said officers won't pursue those driving cars while on bikes. "Nobody that I'm aware of does that," said the chief.
Each bike is equipped with red and blue lights. One bike has a siren.
The bike patrol officers also have a whistle. Leas and the other bike officers can carry their bikes on their patrol cars. When they reach a neighborhood, they can then pedal around.