Officer Steve Moulton has been making rounds around town for the past few months on two wheels instead of four, thanks to the Lenoir Police Department's efforts to refresh the Bike Patrol program.
The department has had certified bike patrol officers on the force since Moulton started the program back in the early 2000s. But often, it's difficult for officers to switch from patrolling in a car to patrolling on a bike and vice-versa.
This year, Police Chief Brent Phelps decided to task part-time officers with bike patrol duty. That means they can focus on community patrols, while other officers maintain their standard patrols in vehicles.
"The greenway continues to grow, and more and more people use it, so we wanted to have more of a presence there," Chief Phelps said. "We felt like we could bring in a couple part-time, bike-certified officers, and put them on patrol at various times to increase our presence on the greenway and in our parks."
Officer Moulton worked for the Hickory Police Department in the 90s, where he completed bike officer patrol school, and he served in the Lenoir Police Department from 2003 to 2005. He then started working at Western Piedmont Community College and is currently the school's Criminal Justice Program Coordinator. But, Officer Moulton has stayed on as a part-time bike officer for Lenoir since 2005.
"Bike patrol works really good for a part-time officer, because I don’t have a patrol car," Officer Moulton said. "I try to be on patrol during high traffic times, weekends, evenings, events, baseball games at Mulberry, and the greenway. My primary duty is being on the bike, but if I’m nearby, I can answer any police call. "
Recently, Officer Moulton was riding through Downtown Lenoir, and he was able to respond to an alarm call. Since he could check the call, another officer didn’t have to drive in from somewhere else in the city. During a car show earlier this year, Officer Moulton and Officer Chris Maher, another bike patrol officer, were working the event. A man fainted and the bike officers were in the area and were able to respond very quickly.
"His wife told me, 'It’s great that you were just riding by,'" Officer Moulton said.
Officer Moulton and other bike patrol officers have been very active in events this year. They attended the Lenoir Bicycle Festival, the Neon Night Ride, the July 4th Fireworks Show, the NC Blackberry Festival, Friday night concerts, car shows, and more. But those are just the events. Officer Moulton's regular patrol includes Downtown Lenoir, the greenway, and city parks. He usually rides about 20 miles in one shift, several times a week.
Officer Moulton has received a lot of positive feedback since he's been out and about this year.
"A lot of people are surprised that we have bike officers, but people seem very appreciative, especially on the greenway," Officer Moulton said. "I’ve gotten a lot of 'Thanks yous,' a lot of 'Nice to see you out here' comments from residents. I carry a roll of stickers with me to hand out to children, and they seem to really like seeing an officer on a bike."
That's one of the benefits of a bike patrol program - many people find the officers approachable and are more comfortable saying, "Hello," and asking questions.
"It’s a great community tool, and it humanizes officers. Most people will see me and other bike officers and think, 'Hey, there’s a guy on a bike, he’s a regular person just doing his job. He's wearing shorts,'" Officer Moulton said. "It’s easy to talk to me."
Chief Phelps said he has also received a lot of positive comments from the public about the bike patrols, and that affirms the decision to focus more resources on the program.
"We’re always looking for ways to meet the needs of the city and our residents," Chief Phelps said. "We want to make sure our residents can enjoy the greenway and feel safe, so increasing our presence there will help. Officer Moulton does a really good job interacting with the community, and that's a very important part of what we do."
So, if you see Officer Moulton riding his bike around town, give him a wave and say, "Hello." If you have a question about the Police Department or the City of Lenoir, he's happy stop and talk.
For more information about the City of Lenoir Police Department, click the following link, Police.
Lenoir Police Bike Patrol Officer Steve Moulton does his job on two wheels instead of four. He usually rides at least 20 miles per shift.
Lenoir Police Bike Officers Steve Moulton and Chris Maher ride around Downtown Lenoir during the Lenoir Bicycle Festival earlier this year.