Sunday, September 03, 2000

ATVs added to township's law-enforcement arsenal

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Police in this Butler County community hope to roll up on and surprise criminals thanks to the recent addition of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to the police fleet.

[photo] West Chester Township Police Sgt. Barry Walker maneuvers one of the department's all-terrain vehicles through a field near the township offices.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        Township police have completed training on the smallish but wide-ranging ATVs, and soon will begin patrolling the community's expanding park areas and numerous construction sites.

        “The ATVs make us more accessible to remote areas where police cruisers can't go,” said Capt. John Bruce of the West Chester Police.

        “And ATVs give criminals a greater threat of apprehension. We can approach them from different angles, and unlike cruisers it gives us speed on rough terrain,” he said.

        With the community adding park land at a record pace — and commercial and residential sites popping up throughout Butler County's fastest-growing township — police officials needed a way to expand their patrols off paved streets.

        When police officials decided to purchase the township's first-ever ATVs earlier this year — at a government-discounted price of $5,200 for two — they knew that the community park land would soon include new parks at the former Voice of America site off Tylersville Road and off Beckett Road.

        Patrolling park trails and fields on foot “puts us at a great disadvantage, is very time consuming and costs us in manpower,” explained Capt. Bruce.

        The ATVs are also effective in patrolling common grounds within apartment and condominium complexes, parades and other crowd control situations.

        The initial purchase is a test program and may be expanded in the future if they prove as successful as anticipated, he said.

        West Chester Police Sgt. Barry Walker is one of the first officers to be trained for ATV patrols and said the off-road vehicles are invaluable in policing all parts of the 36-square mile township.

        An 11-year veteran of West Chester police, Sgt. Walker said he has patrolled “places in the township I've never seen in 11 years” in just the first months of his ATV training.

        “There's no place we can't go with these,” he said. “High-density condo areas, parks and creeks ... these things zip right through them.”

        Capt. Bruce also praised the new police vehicles as being relatively light on the environment and added that officers using ATVs are also trained to minimize damage to soil and wildlife along park trails and fields.

        “We are very sensitive to the terrain we are in,” he said.


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