Note: This blog is the third in a series of stories on the Huntsville Police Department’s Bike Unit, which will be on patrol during the Mayor’s Bike Ride on Saturday, May 1.
Some people think the job of a police officer is limited to writing citations and investigating crimes, but for Huntsville Police Officer Anthony Rosado and Sgt. Jean Aiton, it’s an opportunity to get to know the community.
By day, Rosado can be found walking the halls of Huntsville High School as a School Resource Officer. At night, he cruises the streets of downtown Huntsville on two wheels as a member of the department’s Bike Unit.
Rosado, the unit’s senior officer, has spent the last 12 years working special events and interacting with those enjoying the City’s nightlife.
“We want the community to see us and know they can come to us and get any assistance they need,” he explained.
Leading the unit
The Bike Unit started more than 20 years ago and was designed to be a socially visible squad. The unit’s 14 officers must be self-motivated and have the ability to multitask.
“We serve as a friendly face for the department,” said Aiton, the unit’s supervisor. “Riding a bicycle seems to make our officers more approachable than an officer in a squad car. It humanizes the job of an officer.”
Though the modes of transportation differ, the bikes do share similarities with traditional squad cars like flashing lights, sirens, a first-aid kit, and anything else needed to detain a suspect, write a case report, or issue a citation.
To join the unit, officers are required to have worked the department for at least a year. Those who apply are interviewed and undergo extensive physical testing with and without a bike. If selected, they are required to commit at least three years of service with the unit.
“It’s not just about riding a bike,” Aiton said. “The officers all learn how to do things like riding up and down stairs and mounting and dismounting the bike to respond to call quickly.”