Now that the temperatures have warmed up and spring has arrived, people can expect to see the Estevan Police Service’s bicycle patrol out on the streets and in the community.
The bicycle patrol was resurrected last year, with Const. Keaton Wlaz taking the lead. Members of the EPS use a well-marked bicycle to get around the community.
Wlaz took the training through the Regina Police Service last year, and Police Chief Paul Ladouceur said that training is now being passed on to other officers in the local police force.
“Eventually the goal is to have all of our bicycle officers take the formal training that goes along with being a bicycle patrol officers, keeping in mind that this is part of a patrol unit, so it’s not a separate stand-alone unit,” said Ladouceur.
When time is available, and when shifting allows, the officers have the option to go out on the bike.
Each of the EPS’s four platoons has an officer who is part of the unit. There is also an officer from the specialty units who can participate.
Joining Wlaz are in the bicycle unit are Constables Jarren Senchuk, Landon Polk, Daniel Gagniard and Braden Lonsberry.
The bicycle unit has a lot of advantages, Ladouceur said. One of the biggest is community engagement. Ladouceur expects they will be out in the community promoting bicycle safety, particularly during Bicycle Safety Week later this month. The unit will also be out at events.
“Sometimes our officers are shielded by their car, and they’re harder to approach in that environment,” said Ladouceur. “This allows people to come up and talk with our members and certainly engage with them.”
But it’s also easier for officers to get into parks and back alleys and other areas they might not be able to access in a patrol vehicle.
“There’s always the option on foot, but obviously it’s a little bit slower,” said Ladouceur.
He cited the example of someone being at a red light and using their cellular phone, and they might not realize that the person using a nearby bicycle is a police officer.
“Even though they’re identifiable as such, it’s not something people generally pay a lot of attention to like they would a police vehicle or a police car,” said Ladouceur.
Wlaz said it’s good to be involved with the bike patrol once again this year, and to get some exercise and to interact with the public while he’s on duty.
“I have a couple of presentations scheduled with the schools, talking about bicycle safety,” said Wlaz.
On those nights in which there is a community event, he believes it would be nice to have an officer who is out on a bicycle.
Ladouceur said the bicycle and equipment came in late last summer, so the goal was always to have the unit fully ready for this year.
“They have specialized pants, jackets, shirts and all that stuff that have to be ordered. Helmets and gloves, and the bicycle have to be acquired. It has to be decalled and equipped and everything else. It seems very simple, it’s just a cop on a bike, but there’s more to it, obviously, than that.”