Bike patrol gains lead in ride against crime on trail

Steve Thompson


Spokane, WA - Law enforcement is gearing up, and crime is slowing down.

It's good news for Valley residents, and a credit to four sheriff's deputies on bicycles who have patrolled the Centennial Trail from Boulder Beach to the Washington-Idaho state line since June in hopes of reducing crime.

The four deputies will move over to patrol schools by bike.

The result of this summer's efforts: no reports of indecent exposures and fewer assaults on the patrolled stretch of the Centennial Trail.

"It's apparent to us in the amount of calls that we don't have the same volume as we did in previous years," Spokane Valley Police Chief Cal Walker said. "It sticks out like a sore thumb."

"There's just a presence making the trail feel safer all around," said Denis Felton, Riverside State Park assistant manager.

The deputies are difficult to miss -- and not just because of their lemon yellow patrol shirts.

"The response from the public has been huge," Deputy Jeff Duncan said. "They're very supportive."

The four deputies joined six other officers from around the region for some police bicycle training at Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake last week.

The Sheriff's Office supplied the training. Trainees ambled down a grassy slalom course battling the midday heat and a path of cones designed to represent a tight crowd.

Maneuvering stairs, stops and curves were also course topics, as well as the need for endurance -- a daily trek on the job can stretch 40 miles.

"When they started, their bikes were better than they were," Mike Goetz, trainer from the Seattle Police Department said. "Now, they're better than their bikes."

The course culminates with testing -- written and performance -- based on the International Police Mountain Bike Association standards.

The school deputy roster currently includes officer Matt Gould at Liberty and Freeman high schools, Duncan at University High School and Jeff Bergeron at Mt. Spokane High School.

Officer Wayne Downing, the fourth deputy, is moving over to the Spokane City Police Department from his West Valley High School post. That gap will be filled in time for the upcoming school year.

On school grounds, they deal with thefts -- especially in locker rooms -- possession of drugs and alcohol and traffic violators.


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