Seattle police bike squads, which started as a two-man experiment in 1987, have become an essential part of the department, a key factor in deterring downtown drug crime year-round, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The nation’s first bike officers came in the 1880s, but Seattle is “generally credited with spurring the modern renaissance of police cycling,” said Maureen Becker of the Maryland-based International Police Mountain Bike Association.
In 2003, the most recent year with statistics, 45 percent of U.S. police departments and 16 percent of sheriff’s offices were using bicycles, Becker said. New Seattle bike officers go through a 40-hour training that includes handling skills and obstacle avoidance. They typically stay with the squad three to five years. The bike squads are known for regulating tailgaters after Seahawks games. Narcotics cases account for most of their arrests.