The Sunriver Police Department Bicycle Patrol, under the direction of Sergeant P.J. Beaty, consists of eight seasonal employees who monitor the resort and residential community’s 32 miles of pathways from mid-May to mid-September. Eight community volunteers, ranging in age from the mid-40s to 82, supplement the Bike Patrol. The primary mission of the Sunriver Bicycle Patrol is to ensure that Sunriver residents and many thousands of visitors enjoy their experience and exercise proper safety while riding, walking, or running on the Sunriver pathways. Among its duties, the Sunriver Bike Patrol provides directions to desired locations, locates lost children, reminds people of helmet and safety laws, and informs visitors of Sunriver’s unique environmental rules and regulations. The Patrol also conducts bike safety clinics at the Sunriver Lodge and the Sunriver Nature Center. On Sunriver’s Public Safety Day, the Patrol hands out free bicycle helmets to children in the Sunriver Mall.
Bike Patrol History
When Sergeant Beaty was hired on with the SRPD in 1995 as a Bike Patrol officer, the patrollers were sworn and armed officers. “We made a lot of arrests sneaking up on people, more than the officers in cars. We could get there faster and people just didn’t hear us coming or expect police on bikes.” Six of the SRPD’s current 11 full-time officers started on the Bike Patrol.
In 2003 when the Sunriver Police Department became the smallest police department in the state to earn accreditation, a decision was made to staff the Bike Patrol with auxiliary officers, meaning non-sworn and unarmed. This brought the age limit down from 21 to 18 and attracted students who were studying for or considering careers in law enforcement.
Bike Patrol officers are recruited in April, hired and trained each May to patrol the pathways from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Two of this year’s bike officers are veterans from last year’s patrol. Bike patrollers receive 48 hours of training. The first 16 hours are classes in report writing, traffic control, Sunriver Rules and Regulations, First Aid, CPR, public relations and fingerprinting. The second 16 hours are on bikes learning how to ride safely and effectively on Sunriver’s narrow pathways. The final training is out on the pathways practicing everything they’ve studied. Bike Patrol officers are required to wear helmets, even when they are aren’t riding their bikes, to set a good example.
“I try to teach the officers that they aren’t here in a badge heavy position. I want them to smile, to make a lot of contacts, to talk to people. I tell them to find out where people are from and engage them in friendly conversation. Find out if they are having a good time and if they need anything. If we can make a good impression with law enforcement here in Sunriver, the next experience that person has with law enforcement somewhere else is likely to be positive. “What I’ve found is if you give the public respect, you get respect back. My law enforcement theory is kill ‘em with kindness. Go above and beyond. It’s gratifying for everyone involved,” Beaty said.
Regarding the Big Chainring Award “It’s neat that somebody’s recognizing our efforts. Our department is the quiet type. We tend to slip under the radar staying focused on doing our job,” Beaty said.
Sunriver Police Department Bike Patrol receives award from The Deschutes County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) has awarded the Sunriver Police Department’s Bike Patrol the 2008 Big Chain Ring Agency Award. Since 1996, the Big Chain Ring Awards have been awarded annually to honor individuals, businesses and public agencies that have made significant contributions in support of better bicycling in Central Oregon.
Applications for bicycle patrol are accepted year round. Please click here for an application.