The Brentwood Police Department (BPD) has brought back its bike patrol program after a 10-year hiatus.
Managed by Sergeant Eric Wernholm and led by Detective Joe Nunemaker, the program includes six officers who have been certified by the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA), a nationally recognized program. Wernholm, who was part of the department’s bicycle patrol team before it faded away a decade ago, credits Nunemaker’s enthusiasm with bringing the program back.
“Detective Nunemaker came across (the IPMBA) trainer coarse and approached the administration and myself with the desire to become an instructor for bicycle officers,” Wernholm said.
Nunemaker transferred to Brentwood five years ago from his old department in Virginia, where he was part of that agency’s bike patrol team. His experience with bike patrol had been positive, and he hoped to bring the benefits of more focused patrol to his new community. Brentwood’s administration reacted positively to his plan and the rest was just logistics.
Nunemaker attended an IPMBA training course in October of last year and began training Brentwood officers shortly thereafter.
“To qualify to move forward, our officers had to do a 400-yard run, a three-mile bike ride and a 100-yard bike carry, which finished with placing the bike in the back of the truck, all in 14.5 minutes,” Nunemaker explained. “For these guys, the day we did the test, it was super windy, but they made it.”
The officers who qualified moved forward with the training program: Their first day on patrol was in April ,and the community showed appreciation for the increased safety measures by flocking to social media, commending the department for patrolling areas like trails, where patrol cars cannot go.
“There’s a huge benefit to bicycle patrol, it’s not just to crawl around and find criminals,” Wernholm said. “It’s about getting out in the community, and it’s been well received by citizens and business owners when they see us out on the bikes.”
The department is currently using Fugi mountain bikes, but Nunemaker hopes to purchase bikes designed for police patrol. He said patrol bikes are stronger in the back, where officers will carry most of their gear. Though they wear a modified uniform while on the bikes, the officers will carry the same amount of gear on their person that they would normally: Their bikes are equipped with a basic medical kit, lights and sirens, a battery pack and forms.
Short-term goals for the team are to increase certified officers and the number of hours they are patrolling.
“I’ve seen the benefits of bike patrol in the community,” Nunemaker said. “It’s great for furthering community relationships and gives us another way to enforce the law, with the advantage of going where a patrol car can’t.”
Since April, pairs of officers on bikes have been seen all over Brentwood at all hours of the day. Nunemaker said he enjoys patrolling on the bike and the change of scenery that comes with it.
“I like it a lot compared to being in a car,” he said. “It’s a nice change, gets you a little physical exertion and gives you a different perspective of our environment and the job that we are doing. It’s nice to have different perspective so we can do our job better.”
For more information on the Brentwood Police Department’s bike patrol team, call the department’s non-emergency line at 925-634-6911.