Dolores has added a police bike patrol to its law enforcement plan, and plans to have horse patrols too.
“It is all part of our community-policing effort,” said David Van Bibber, a Montezuma County Sheriff’s deputy stationed in Dolores. “We’re wanting to connect with people outside of our police cruisers.”
Van Bibber also is the school resource officer for Dolores Schools, and will continue to keep an eye on the campus during the summer.
But he has also been assigned to patrolling the town on a bike customized by Nicholas Tyson Jones, of Lizard Head Cyclery.
“When school is out, I will still be in the community,” Van Bibber said. “A bike patrol is perfect for Dolores, and is a positive way to interact with people.”
The Breezer Lightning bike was customized based on state law-enforcement standards, Jones said.
“It is top of the line with some very nice features,” he said. “It is set up to be durable and easy to use.”
The steel-frame, rigid-fork mountain bike boasts 29-inch wheels with knobby tires and has 18 speeds with a 2x9 crank. The black-and-white bike is equipped with reflective sheriff logos and a blue-and-red police strobe that can be activated from the handlebars. It is powered by a substantial battery pack under the seat.
A rack and saddle bags carry emergency aid equipment, ticket books and other police gear. A liter hydration pack under the seat feeds a tube that is attached to the handlebars. The mouthpiece utilizes an innovative a retractable cable for easy access while riding.
Van Bibber promised that the bike is not for heavy-handed enforcement or invading residents’ privacy.
“It’s a small town. People are going to roll through stop signs. We’re here to keep people safe,” he said.
The bike patrols are intended to personalize law enforcement, he said, and to allow response to areas less accessible by vehicle.
“We can interact more with kids in the park and let them know we are here to help and solve problems,” he said. “If there is an emergency on the bike trails or at the river, I can get there quickly.”
The patrol bike cost $1,700 and was purchased by the Town of Dolores.
During river days, the sheriff’s office tried out a mounted patrol using a cross-deputized policeman from Mountain Village who is a certified mounted patrol trainer.
“It is going well, and people love it,” said deputy Ted Holland, sitting on top of his horse, Comanche. “Especially the kids.”
Sheriff Steve Nowlin is applying for grants to pay for four horses that will be trained for mounted patrols in the county, and special events in Dolores. The prospects were rounded up as part of the BLM wild horse program, and are trained by inmates in a Colorado penitentiary.
“The bike and horse patrols were a big hit during river days, and we will have them during Escalante Days,” Nowlin said.