During a recent senate meeting, Student Association (SA) Vice President Manuel Tejada proposed the idea of having the University Police Department (UPD) members use bicycles to patrol campus.
“With roadways and parking lots moving toward the exterior of the campus, as part of the ongoing construction plan — as seen with the Mohonk walkway for example — the use of bicycles as an alternative or equalizer seems to be the solution,” Tejada said.
Tejada said there is a problem with accessibility for patrol cars throughout the campus. He said the campus is moving toward being a pedestrian-friendly environment, which allows the increased use of police on bicycles to fit in with such a transition.
“This policy is one that is almost necessary due to the transition of parking lots and roadways to the exterior,” Tejada said.
Tejada said while patrol cars may be more effective in emergency situations he thinks both bicycles and cars are effective in their own way. He said bicycles are much safer for students and for everyone walking on campus, because they “provide closer interaction with police and students” because it allows students to be less intimidated by police and reduce the “fear factor.”
Although Tejada has recently suggested this policy to the student senate, Chief of Police David Dugatkin said the practice of University Police Officers patrolling the campus on bicycles has been going on for many years now.
Tejada said students have seen UPD members using bicycles, which means the policy has been in practice for a while. However, he would like to increase the presence of officers on bicycles. He said through this initiative, he wants students to understand their responsibilities, know their rights and know how to interact with the UPD members.
Second-year communication major Wendy Chiu said although she has not seen any UPD members using bicycles to patrol the campus, she thinks this is a positive change that will increase student interaction.
“I think it will make it more known that the UPD is there and we can notice them more than we usually do,” Chui said.
Tejada said he plans on getting feedback from students on their views. He said when he proposed the idea to the senate there was an array of views both positive and negative.
He said some senators were concerned about students being able to identify officers at a close proximity, especially at night but other senators were supportive because they thought the interaction between police and students would increase.
“There has been, so far, either positive responses or mute responses, and even negative,” Tejada said. “The best we can do is make sure the policy seems to be benefitting students, and not hurting students.”