June 19, 2013 - Residents will soon see Oakland County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) Deputy Sharon Beltz patrolling Independence Township on a bike.
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"The deputy will be all over the township," said OCSO Lt. Dirk Feneley of the Independence Substation.
He added if there is a particular problem in a subdivision he can call on Beltz to go to the area. She can patrol on her bike if the situation calls for it. Beltz will also patrol area parks, subdivisions and special events.
"There are all sorts of activities in the area from softball to concerts to disk golf. Having an officer patrol on bike provides added benefits to the community. It also allows a deputy to get to know the people better and provides more access to an area," said Feneley.
Feneley added patrolling areas via bicycle is also used in other communities in Oakland County.
It comes at no cost to taxpayers after the OCSO picked up the cost of training and the police union donated money to revamp the bike. The bike hitch was attached and bike repairs were completed thanks to a $500 cash donation from the police union.
Beltz said Kinetic Systems in Clarkston helped figure out what repairs and upgrades needed to be done to get the donated bike in top shape.
Repair work included new brakes, gears and cables. Kinetic also added emergency lights and a siren to complete the bike.
Beltz, who has served as a deputy in Independence Township since 1996, finished a week long training session on June 7 at the Oakland Police Academy in Auburn Hills and begins her bike patrol this week.
"She will be on bike patrol on days we have extra manpower," said Feneley.
Beltz will shift between patrolling the township in her car, which is equipped with hardware to carry the bike. Being able to patrol areas with alternative methods other than by car provides a lot of added benefits to a community, he said.
"Now I will be able to take the bike off the car and drive through local parks. I can also better patrol apartment complexes, neighborhoods, and subdivision," she said. "I will also be able to see a lot better."
Beltz said she has been interested policing on bicycle for quite a long time.
"I showed interest in doing it before," said Beltz. "They asked me if I was still interested and I said I was."
Beltz added having more contact with citizens is always good because it allows officers to gain valuable information and can also lead to crime tips.
"It's nice because the community sees me up close and personal," she said.
In addition to officers patrolling on bicycle, the OCSO also has a motorcycle and a mounted unit.
One of the largest in the state, the Motorcycle Traffic Unit, consists of 18 deputies trained to patrol on Harley Davidson Motorcycles. Since 1948 the OCSO has also had a Mounted Unit, one of the oldest in the country, that allows officers to patrol areas via 29 part-time horses.