July 17, 2013 - What has two wheels and the power to arrest bad guys?
Oakland County Sheriff's Deputy David Slazinski will patrol Oxford Township from a two-wheel unit.
Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Oxford Township's new bicycle cop, David Slazinski.
Last week, the Oakland County Sheriff's deputy began dividing his eight-hour shifts between driving his motor vehicle and pedaling his department-issued bicycle.
"It will be part of my regular patrol duties," Slazinski said.
He'll use his bike to patrol the Polly Ann Trail, township parks, subdivisions and special events when necessary.
"You're at a different level on a bike," Slazinski explained. "You're not moving as fast as you are in a car, so you can kind of observe what's going on a little more carefully."
Slazinski, a 14-year veteran of the sheriff's department, received his bicycle training back in 2009 while assigned to the Oakland Township substation. There he gained experience patrolling the township's parks and the heavily-travelled Paint Creek Trail.
On the Polly Ann Trail, Slazinski will be on the lookout for vagrants, vandals and suspicious activity. His presence is also meant to help trail users feel safer, particularly women who traverse it alone.
As for when he'll be on the trail, Slazinski said, "It really depends on how much traffic I see."
"I think in the evenings and on the weekends, there's going to more traffic on the trail, obviously, so those are the times I'm going to try to target," he said.
In subdivisions, Slazinski hopes to stop crimes such as home invasions. "They typically happen during the day," he said.
Slazinki believes it's easier to catch a criminal in the act when he's on two wheels instead of four.
"Someone on a bike is less obvious than someone in a car," he said. "I can kind of sneak around on the bike a lot easier."
In the township parks, Slazinski will be on the lookout for people violating local ordinances and laws by consuming alcohol, using drugs, allowing their dogs to run free and vandalizing public property such as playground equipment, restrooms and signage.
"Riding through Seymour Lake Park on my bike, I'll be able to target those types of situations a lot easier," he said.
In addition to catching bad guys and being a visible deterrent to crime, Slazinski sees the bicycle patrol as a way for him to have some positive, "one-on-one" interactions with members of the public, particularly local youth.
For example, if he sees kids wearing their bike helmets incorrectly, he can stop and give them some general safety tips. Through interactions like this he hopes to create a rapport.
"I think they respond more to an officer on a bicycle," Slazinski said. "I think it's a little more personal."
Slazinski is no stranger to Oxford. Not only has he lived here for two years, he got his start in law enforcement with the Oxford Police Department back in the 1990s.
"I was a part-time officer working full-time hours," he said.
He left the joint township-village department shortly before it disbanded in February 2000.
In his free time, Slazinski enjoys bicycling for both fitness and charity. Since 2011, he's participated in the Tour de Force bike ride, which memorializes all those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.
The ride also raises funds to benefit the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
Slazinski is planning to do the ride again in September. He will be part of 250 bicyclists who will trek from NYC's Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center stood, to the Boston Marathon finish line, the site of terrorist bombings back in April.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.