|By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
Fort McCoy’s Police Department is taking to the streets in a newly
formed mountain bike unit to support community policing efforts.
Fort McCoy Police Officers Matt
Styba (left) and Victoria Smith introduce the mountain bike unit
concept to attendees at Fort McCoy’s Day for Kids event
Sept. 17. (Photo by Capt.
Fort McCoy Chief of Police Rob Stapel said the unit will be used to
support special events and special locations at Fort McCoy. The
first event the bicyclists supported was the Fort McCoy Day for Kids
“The use of the bicycles intersects with community-oriented policing
models,” Stapel said. “One of the added benefits of using the
bicycles is it takes officers out of their vehicles and makes them
more accessible to customers.”
The premise is similar to officers walking a beat during their duty
time. Stapel said officers who walked their beat knew everyone’s
name in the area and the customers they served felt the officers
were approachable and ready to listen to their concerns.
When officers moved to perform their rounds in vehicles, they became
enclosed in their vehicles and removed from the customers they
served, he said. The 10-speed mountain bikes and the special
uniforms the officers wear when they’re riding the bikes also are a
good public relations tool to connect with their customers, such as
the youth during the Fort McCoy Day for Kids event. Stapel said the
bike unit will be used to support activities in the cantonment area,
such as the Army Concert Tour, battalion runs, etc. The bikes also
can be used to travel between buildings.
“Using the bicycles is much quieter than using vehicles so we won’t
cause as much disturbance,” he said. “The bicycles are very
maneuverable so we can get into some spots much easier than we could
with vehicles and not interrupt or disturb the activities as much as
we did with vehicles.”
The mountain bikes also can be used off road so they would be useful
in supporting activities at the Pine View Campground camping sites,
for example. Stapel said one of the few drawbacks of using the
mountain bikes is it likely won’t be practical to use the bikes
during inclement or winter weather.
Forming the mountain bike unit was the culmination of a three-year
effort, he said. The bikes were obtained by a former police chief.
Next, the department obtained uniforms and safety gear for the
personnel in the unit.
The final step was to identify personnel to be part of the unit and
arrange the training.
“I wanted to find the right officers for the unit — people who
demonstrated interest in doing this and were enthusiastic to do
this,” Stapel said. “I felt that would give us the best results.”
McCoy arranged to have a certified trainer come to the installation
to give a two-day course in August. Seven officers from Fort McCoy
participated in the training. Two officers from the Onalaska Police
Department also participated when the training was opened up to
The comprehensive training covered safety aspects of the bikes and
maintenance, including changing tires, if necessary, he said.
The bike unit also will help save maintenance costs and support a
Department of the Army directive to reduce fleet operating costs,
“In addition to saving money there’s also the health benefits the
officers will get from using the bikes,” he said.