Harrodsburg police implement bicycle patrols

September 29, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - Police officers patrolling on bicycles will soon be a part of community law enforcement efforts in Harrodsburg.

Jason Elder, Scott Elder and Robert Ladd will make up the first bicycle patrol in the Harrodsburg Police Department.

"Everybody talks about community policing, but there's no better way than to be out with the people," said Ladd.

Giving up a high-powered police cruiser for a self-propelled, two-wheeled form of transportation may not appear to be the best way to arrest lawbreakers, but that seems to be one of just a few downsides.

In a way, the bikes give police more mobility. "We've been able to sneak up on people," said Ladd. He said he and the Elders asked Police Chief Ernie Kelty about starting a bicycle patrol and he told them to look into it, but noted the police department does not have the money to fund such a service.


There are special bicycles for police patrols, and the Harrodsburg Police Department now has two it was able to get from the Columbia Housing Authority. The Columbia police was not able to use them and the housing authority there wanted them to be used in police work.

The Harrodsburg Housing Authority has ordered a third bicycle that police hope will be delivered soon. A new police bicycle costs about $750 with all of the equipment that is needed.

Ladd and the Elder brothers work the second shift, and they say that is the best time to catch people committing crimes like burglaries. For the safety of the police officers, the bicycle patrols will consist of two people.

When officers make an arrest, they need the help of traditional patrols in cruisers to transport the suspect to the police station.

One of the advantages to being on a bicycle or on foot is that the officers can hear yelling, windows being broken, fights and cars, and they may be able to see better what is going on the streets.

Switching from riding to pedaling has taken some getting used to. None of the three has ridden a bicycle since their teenage years.

"The first day out, we thought we might need medical attention," Ladd said.

The second day out, they pedaled 18 miles through several subdivisions in and near the city between 7 p.m. and midnight. If the patrol is going to work in Brentwood or around the Anderson-Dean Community Park, they put the bikes on a car rack and transport them and the police officers to the location.

Just as there are special bikes for patrolling, there is special police training for the officers that ride them. The two bikes from Columbia do not have enough gears to qualify them in the training, so if the Harrodsburg officers attend a week-long training session at the Department of Criminal Justice classes in Richmond, two newer bikes with more gears will have to be purchased.

The police department will gladly accept donations from individuals and businesses to help purchase new bikes and the other equipment needed, Ladd and the Elders said.

A police officer's complete uniform, including the service belt, weapon and the bullet-proof vest, adds 20 pounds to the weight an officer has to carry.

There also are special uniforms. The shirts have POLICE in reflective letters on the back. The uniform for the patrol also has short pants, and the Elders and Ladd have taken their share of ribbing for showing off their legs.

While their co-workers make fun of them, motorists who come up behind the bicycles treat them with the same respect - or maybe fear - they treat their cruiser-driving co-workers. People won't pass them, the officers said.

The men want to continue to use the patrol as far into the fall and winter as they can. "We'll know we've gone too long if the city wants us to put a snowplow on the front of our bikes," said Scott Elder.

Ann R. Harney can be reached at

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