With spring comes the return of police switching gears from automatic to foot power, as they peddle their way through city streets during the warmer months.
Bike patrol gives officers the ability to see and hear more of the community’s issues, often offering an upfront view into problems they wouldn’t normally see from a car window.
Waterloo Region Police Constable Mike D’Aoust has done bike patrol for 20 years, spending nine of those in Cambridge. He is also the lead instructor for the WRPS bike training program.
“When you are on a bicycle it is a lot easier to interact, you can hear a lot more that is going on and people are more confident and comfortable talking to you.
“You see a lot more that is going on around because you don’t have the normal blocking of pillars in a car.”
The trail networks in Cambridge see more drinking along them than in Waterloo, says D’Aoust. Mentioning that there is a larger homeless population living along the river to have access to that water.
“When I was working in Cambridge, my goal was to map out where campsites were, if we were getting a rush from calls in break and enters, at least this way we knew who was living in what tent so if we ever obtained videos we could maybe put a face to the name.”
Biking also allows WRPS to connect with the homeless population and connect them with resources in town.
“Our team was investigating about 11 break and enters, we had information from a confidential source that it may be a person living along the river so having developed that information we were able to go down and recover over 100 pieces of property this person had in there possession.”
They were able to return about 70 per cent of those found items to their original owners.
Without doing all the bike patrol work prior, they wouldn’t have known where to look or how to access the suspect, said D’Aoust.
“The speed of a bike gives me an advantage.”
“If I’m walking you're probably going to hear me but because I’m moving so much faster before someone can actually react it allows me access to a lot of areas.”
D’Aoust is an avid cyclist, often competing in races on the side, he enjoys being able to intertwine biking into his work as an officer in the region.
“I’m all about biking so I prefer being on a bike any day of the week.”
He has seen more people take up biking since the pandemic started, noting a need for more bike trails.
WRPS celebrates bike safety month in June, a reminder to riders to stay alert and stay safe.