Officer Jordan Schenck, of Kettering Health Network Police at Fort Hamilton Hospital, patrols the area around the hospital Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. The health network last month added a bike patrol to the police force it installed at the facility earlier this year. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: LEE ANN YAHLE
Photo: LEE ANN YAHLE

Why officers are now riding bikes around the Fort Hamilton Hospital campus

Fort Hamilton Hospital’s in-house police force is adding a bike patrol.

The new initiative was launched last month, according to Maj. Eric Beeghly, who manages Kettering Health Network South Region Police & Security.

“Once we started police services (at Fort Hamilton Hospital) in May, it was my plan once we get things going to get bike patrol started here,” he said. “Several of our other hospitals throughout the network have bike patrol so I thought it would be nice introduction down here, as well.”

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Of the 18 officers staffed at the hospital, six are part of the bike patrol, Beeghly said. The new measure supersedes patrolling the extensive property because bicycles are “a great way to engage with the community,” he said.

“When you’re on a bicycle, you’re found to be a lot more approachable than in a police car,” Beeghly said. “With how large our campus is, it’s actually a really quick way for our officers to get around the campus and interact with our patients and visitors and help them when they come to the hospital.”

By being out and visible, officers deter crime, from vehicle theft and break-ins to criminal mischief.

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“We really embrace the preventive patrols and going all over the parking lot and so forth to help reduce crime here around the campus and in the neighborhood,” he said.

Being on a bike also allows officers to navigate through the tight spaces that would have been impossible to navigate in a patrol vehicle.

Jurisdiction for the hospital’s police force is “curb to curb,” but also includes several parking lots behind the hospital and the hospital’s sleep center at 520 Eaton Ave.

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The mountain bikes include special equipment for functionality and safety, he said.

The three to five days of training the officers go through network-wide is through the International Police Mountain Bike Association, which lists itself as “a non-profit association dedicated to promoting the use of bikes for public safety, providing resources and networking opportunities, and offering the best, most complete training for public safety cyclists.”

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“There’s some good training tactic and positions that officers need to be mindful of for their safety while on bike patrol,” Beeghly said.

The bike patrol runs from spring to “November-ish” due to weather, he said.

“There are some departments that do it throughout the winter,” Beeghly said. “Just being new to it, we’re going to kind of wait and see how it goes.”

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