Prairie Village police launch new bicycle officer program

Two Prairie Village officers recently completed a bicycle policing training program in Emporia.
Two Prairie Village officers recently completed a bicycle policing training program in Emporia.

Prairie Village residents may see a new sight in the city in the coming weeks: police officers on bicycles.

The Prairie Village Police Department this month launched a new program that will put two of its patrol officers on the streets and sidewalks on mountain bikes instead of squad cars. It’s part of an effort to increase officer visibility and approachability as the city expands its parks and trails system.

“Anywhere they can be visible, be a little more approachable for people, those are good community policing opportunities,” said Sgt. Eric McCullough, who is overseeing the program. “Sometimes they can come in handy in enforcement as well, if we need something more stealthy.”

While the officers have primarily been focused on patrolling the city’s parks and shopping centers, McCullough said the bikes provide a flexibility that isn’t available to officers in cars. Prairie Village’s paved creek beds, for instance, generate several calls to the department. The bicycles allow officers to patrol the creek beds.

McCullough said the new program will be useful when the new public park on the Meadowbrook site opens next year. The department is also looking at purchasing a small all-terrain vehicle to aid in patrolling that parkland.

One of the bicycle officers will be on hand at the city’s VillageFest Fourth of July celebration next week.

Prairie Village isn’t the only northeast Johnson County city to add bicycle officers to its enforcement and patrol efforts. Mission launched a similar program in 2015.