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A bicycle built for security.

When Frenchman Conte Mede de Sivrac invented the bicycle in 1790, security was probably the furthest issue from his mind. But security managers today are finding that this low-tech, 203-year-old mode of transportation can give officers a cost-effective lift on the road to crime prevention.

The Rouse Company has developed one of the nation's first privately operated bicycle security patrol programs. This innovative project, modeled after programs used by several police departments, has proven so effective that after a six-month test program in 1992, the bike patrols are now in use at all its company properties.

Rouse has continually sought new ways to enhance security management programs. As the largest publicly owned real estate company in North America, Rouse employs more than 2,000 security officers, manages shopping centers in eighty locations and has 112 office buildings throughout the United States. While the crime rate has gone up in many of these cities, most of the company's properties have shown a consistent decrease in crime.

Adding a bicycle patrol not only increases security's effectiveness for company properties, customers, and staff, but it also lowers costs. While some costs are associated with the start-up of a bicycle program, savings outweigh expenses over the long term. For instance, while the bicycle program does not replace security vehicles, it does decrease the number of vehicles needed, which reduces gasoline consumption and automobile maintenance costs.

The bicycle patrol provides the ability for security to effectively patrol large spaces without adding personnel. At projects where several officers are posted, one of the interior foot patrol officers has been reassigned to a bike patrol monitoring an inner parking area perimeter. This officer patrols the parking lot more thoroughly than the previous coverage, which consisted of an officer in a car. In addition, the response time of the bike officer is faster than that of a foot patrol officer.

By shifting priorities from inside a shopping center or office complex to the parking lots where, traditionally, most major crime occurs, a more successful and productive security management program is created.

Who can benefit? Bicycle security patrols offer unique qualities that can be effective for security teams in commercial buildings, residential areas, hotels and resorts, entertainment centers, and retail centers. If a facility is using foot patrols, bicycles provide increased speed and the ability to cover ground more quickly. Also, bike patrols increase the safety of personnel by giving them more speed.

At a large industrial facility, a foot patrol officer can probably only check the perimeter once every hour. Put that same officer on a bike and he or she can leisurely circle the perimeter approximately four times in the same 60 minutes. It is also difficult for anyone to surprise the officer from behind, as he or she will be traveling 10- to 20-miles per hour.

If a facility uses cars for patrols, adding a bicycle team can increase flexibility. When a security officer is following a suspicious person by car and the person runs from the parking lot into the interior of the complex, the officer must stop, get out of the car, and chase the suspect on foot. However, a bike patrol officer can simply ride up from the lot into the complex.

Bikes can maneuver easily from road to walkway while giving the security officer a method for rapid, yet quiet, surveillance and approach. Should it become necessary for the officer to stop a trespasser or criminal, the quiet approach of the bicycle provides the edge of surprise.

Many police departments have created bicycle patrols, not to replace their cars, but to enhance their overall effectiveness. The Newport Beach Police Department in California has created a bike patrol that operates year-round. During the summer, the bike patrol focuses on the beaches, where heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic creates a situation in which the officers on bicycles are able to respond more quickly to a call than the car patrols. In addition, the police have found that their white shirts and black shorts are not immediately recognizable. They have been successful in using the bike officers to catch more crimes in progress, particularly car thefts and drug-related crimes.

During the Christmas season, the police department had a bike patrol police officer supplementing the security officer on bike patrol at the Fashion Island shopping center, one of two test facilities for the Rouse program. The police not only caught shoplifters and made arrests but also noted that the total number of calls they received was down from previous years.

Privately owned property, including shopping centers and business parks, limit the level of police activity permissible. Police cannot give tickets on private property for noise disturbances, parking violations, and similar non-criminal activities; however, a private bike patrol officer can give warning notices for parking violations, jaywalking, and other disturbances, such as skateboard riding.

The police have used bikes to chase criminals in parks, other hard-to-cover areas, and stealth situations, such as drug arrests. Bikes are also used to increase the visibility of security officers in crowds. Security personnel may find that the presence of security officers on bikes, which heightens everyone's awareness of security, reassures visitors and deters vandals and other mischievous people.

During daylight hours when commercial centers, hotels, entertainment, and retail sites are filled with pedestrians and cars, bicycles are the most efficient way to move through the crowds. At night, when these locations are empty, security officers can move with great speed on bikes and thoroughly cover the grounds.

Testing the program. From June through December 1992, Rouse implemented a test program that was developed for a bicycle patrol at Fashion Island, a 1.2-million square foot open-air shopping center in Newport Beach, California, and at North Star Mall, a 2.5-million square foot enclosed mall in San Antonio, Texas.

Shortly after beginning the test program at Fashion Island, security officers helped apprehend an auto burglary suspect. The speed and stealth of the bikes allowed the officers to observe the suspect until the police, summoned by radio, arrived to make the arrest. Since the security officers are not police officers, their primary job is not to make arrests but to deter crimes before they occur and to provide customer service whenever it is needed.

Bike officers are involved in a preventive program. They assist in risk management by reporting or eliminating physical dangers or hazards for customers, be it from a spilled ice-cream cone, a pothole, or a suspicious person. Bike officers have a physical perspective of the property not available either to foot patrol officers or to officers in vehicles. They are, therefore, able to provide a different kind of information to property managers and customers. Because the bike patrol is more visible and more accessible to the clientele, the officers are also able to assist shoppers who have misplaced their keys, to give directions, to help lost children, and to assist individual merchants in improving their own in-store security.

The merchants in the two test centers give the bike patrol high marks because it brings a quick response security team out of the parking lot and inside the shopping center. The security team now has been given a valuable new tool that makes them better at their jobs. Customers enjoy the visibility of the patrols and the goodwill they create.

What it takes. Security managers considering a bike patrol must weigh the costs against the benefits. The creation and implementation of such a program requires personnel who are physically fit, as well as trained in security procedures. Bike officers also have a great deal of unsupervised time and must therefore be highly motivated.

A company should ask its most physically fit people to volunteer to become trained and certified bike patrol security officers. They will need to be trained on riding strategies specific to patrol duty, including riding on stairs, jumping curbs, negotiating safely through crowds, and even the potential for using the bike as an offensive or defensive weapon.

In addition, security will need to purchase and equip mountain bicycles specifically for use in a bike patrol. This requires additional lighting for the bikes, sophisticated shocks to absorb intensive riding for long hours, and a rack for security equipment.

Proper attire is essential, and safety helmets are required. Uniforms should include warm-weather clothing, such as shorts, a white shirt with "security" printed on the back, and a patch or badge on the front shirt pocket, increasing both visibility and authority. Cool-weather clothing should include a "security" Windbreaker and long pants with bike guards.

Mountain bikes are recommended because of their durability. High-performance mountain bikes, such as Raleigh, Trek, and Specialized, are good choices. The bikes are used approximately sixteen hours a day, every day of the week. The high mileage calls for strong equipment. Special tires are needed for intensive asphalt and concrete patrol. Riding up escalators, off curbs, and down staircases are all part of an average day's work.

Patrol bikes should be adjusted to a more upright position than typical bikes. The forward-leaning stance of a normal biker rider would become tiring for an officer riding for approximately six hours of an eight-hour shift.

Measuring success. As part of the bike patrol program at Rouse, a test period was included after which the firm evaluated its success. The company completed a statistical analysis of the crime rates in the parking lots of the two centers, comparing the number of crimes before the bike patrol to the number of crimes after the bike patrol. The study showed that the bike patrol resulted in a decrease in crime of 69 percent at Fashion Island and 40 percent at North Star Mall.

This success has led to the establishment of the bike patrol program at all Rouse facilities. Management is optimistic that with only the cost of the bikes and equipment, and no additional personnel, security can decrease parking lot crime overall by 50 percent.

The company also used hard costs, personnel costs, crime statistics, and merchant, shopper, and landlord response to the program to track cost containment, decrease in criminal activity, and the ability to more effectively monitor crowd situations, as well as keep security officers in a lower-risk capacity at the facility.

The benefits have proven well worth the effort. Applying these principals to any security situation should result in benefits not only for the firm but also for the well-being of its clients.

George W. Cosper is director of corporate security for The Rouse Company in Columbia, Maryland. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Innovative Security; bicycle-mounted security pwersonnel
Author:Cosper, George W.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Previous Article:Putting the vision in supervision.
Next Article:Former foes, future friends.

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