The Bicycle Patrol began in 1989 with three officers and a sergeant, who were outfitted with donated bicycles and equipment. The Bicycle Patrol officers worked the city's Operations Division West patrol division, which at that time included the downtown area. Over the next few years the Bicycle Patrol grew to six bicycle officers and a sergeant.
The Bicycle Patrol proved so successful and popular with the public that in late 1994 it was expanded to the other patrol divisions. Four bicycle officers were assigned to each of the other three patrol divisions: South, Midtown, and East. In 1998, again because of its success and public support, the Bicycle Patrol expanded. A bicycle sergeant position and two additional bicycle officer positions were approved and filled in each division. In 2003, the unit expanded again with the creation of Downtown District. This brought the total number of police personnel assigned to the Bicycle Patrol to its current number of 42.
The position of bicycle officer is classified as a Special Assignment. Officers interested in becoming bike officers must have been an officer for three years, pass a timed 4.73 mile bike ride and an oral board, and complete a 40-hour AZPOST certified training course. The names of officers meeting the qualifications are then placed on an eligibility list. Assignment to Bicycle Patrol is currently limited to five years.
Tucson's climate allows the Bicycle Patrol to ride bicycles year round. Summer in Tucson proves to be the most challenging, with temperatures sometimes reaching 110 to 114 degrees. Plenty of fluids and sunscreen are vital. Tucson winters are usually mild with daytime highs in the 50s and morning lows in the 20s. Snow is very rare and does not stay long—a few hours at most. With the exceptions of thunderstorms or heavy rain, the Bicycle Patrol officers can be on their bicycles 350+ days a year.
On average, a Tucson Bicycle Patrol officer will ride about 4,500 miles per year patrolling the streets of Tucson. Those in the suburbs ride more miles and those working the downtown areas ride less. With 42 members of the Bicycle Patrol now working the streets, it adds up to a lot of community contact and police presence in Tucson's neighborhoods. Bicycle Patrol officers perform the same duties as their counterparts in patrol cars. They respond to a wide variety of calls for service. They work narcotics problems in some areas. They also assist undercover officers in various investigations. In general, they are most effective in patrolling and responding to areas difficult to reach by car.
Thank you for visiting us. We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the Tucson Police Department's Bicycle Patrol.