If you have recently noticed police officers in fluorescent yellow shirts riding bikes on campus, you are not alone. This highly visible four-member team is the newest creation of the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD), designed to enhance campus safety and community outreach.
The GTPD Core Campus Team launched on June 11 as one of several changes borne out of an in-depth analysis of data related to calls for service. Analysis included comparison of the call nature, timing, and location during the 12–hour shifts worked by all patrol officers.
"After looking at the data, it was clear that we had opportunities to reevaluate our resources and deploy officers more effectively," states Chief Rob Connolly. "Two visible changes are the move to overlapping eight-hour shifts and the creation of the Core Campus Team that will patrol the interior campus by foot, Segways, and bicycles."
Using non-traditional methods of transport provides the Core Campus Team with distinct advantages. For one, officers on bikes are able to interact in a more personal manner with the community. "I can easily hop off my bike to talk with students on Tech Walkway or business owners in Tech Square," explains Sergeant Gary Cook. "This is harder to do from a patrol car. Bikes give us a natural opportunity to engage with people face to face, listen to their concerns, and find out how we're doing."
In addition to actively building relationships with the campus community, bike officers can quickly access areas of campus typically off-limits to patrol cars. And as Tech continues to grow the number of pedestrian-friendly areas on campus, the increased visibility of GTPD's presence on campus will ultimately improve safety.
Over the next few months, the Core Campus Team will grow to 10 members. The team has plans to help educate the greater Tech community about bicycle safety and the appropriate use of bicycles on campus.