Special Operations - Bike Patrol
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The main focus of responsibility has been the Central Business District, but during the past several years, the focus has begun to change. The Business District is still a primary focus, but urban living is on the rise. The skyscrapers are becoming homes to hundred’s of thousands of people. For this reason, the division’s duties and responsibilities have changed, but Patrol is still the backbone of the department and the Special Operations Division. The patrol officer responds to calls, makes arrests, and enforces the laws of the State of Texas, they just do it in the shadows of downtown. The patrol officer at S.O. finds him or herself extremely busy on weekends, as the downtown area boasts numerous clubs and restaurants. The downtown area also hosts many celebrations and parties sponsored by the city. The men and women of the Special Operations Patrol work each and every event. In addition to the above responsibilities, the division is also responsible for patrolling Memorial and Hermann parks. Memorial Park is 1500 acres and boasts one of the most popular jogging tracks in the city. There are thousands of runners that use the trail daily. The park also boasts one of the most popular cycling areas, the picnic loop. This is a safe place for road riding. It is also the location of Wednesday evening CRITS. There are numerous mountain bike trails as well. The bike units and the Mounted Patrol are responsible for patrolling the trails.
As a side note the Special Operations officer is subject to being sent to any destination within the City of Houston. This typically occurs when a large fire, explosion, or Catastrophe occurs and additional manpower is needed. Each area or “Sub-Station” has a given amount of manpower. If the event exceeds that number, the Special Operations Officer is mobilized and sent to assist.
The Special Operations Bike Patrol consists of one sergeant and three officers. They perform administrative duties, training, and maintenance. There are approximately one hundred and twenty bike certified officers at S.O. At any given time there are approximately twenty officers riding in the downtown area.
The bike certification class is a two-part process. Initially, you must complete an eight-hour class or orientation. During this orientation you will ride approximately twenty miles. After completing the orientation, you may take the forty-hour school. Officers wishing to attend this class must be prepared to ride twenty to thirty miles per day and pass a riding test at the end. Needless to say, officers attending this school must be committed.
The bike patrol is outfitted with 26” mountain bikes. The uniform consists of a bike helmet, pullover polo style shirt, and riding pants or shorts, depending on the weather.
The bikes provide numerous advantages to the department and officers. The bikes allow a quiet response great mobility, and can navigate traffic easily as officers are able to make use of sidewalks and allyways too. The cost of a bicycle is much less than a patrol car and the operation and maintenance cost is much less as well. Probably the greatest benefit is public relations, as officers are able to interact with the citizens on routine patrols.