By Charley Hanney (Originally published in the Cedarburg News Graphic)
Mequon-Thiensville’s Community Foundation and Optimist Club strive to enhance the quality of life in the city and village.
Their mission was most evident last week when the two groups celebrated their roughly $9,000 donation — $8,340 from MTCF and $1,000 from the Optimist Club — to the Thiensville Police Department that allowed for the purchase of two electronic bikes.
“It reinforced the importance of our foundation and why we do what we do,” MTCF President Lori Lorenz said.
The bikes were purchased through Extreme Ski and Bike in Thiensville and arrived in early July, right in time before the Fun Before the Fourth parade.
With max speeds reaching up to 25 mph, they will improve the department’s bike patrol capabilities and, according to Police Chief Curt Kleppin, remove the barrier and open lines of communication between officers and citizens.
“When you’re out on the street, people love it, the community loves it,” Kleppin said about the new additions. “If you’re out in a squad car, they’ll wave to you, but keep going. But when you’re out on a bike, it just draws that interaction. It’s a good thing and it brings the community real close.”
Other than making it easier to engage with residents, the e-bikes will allow officers to ride for longer periods of time, to maneuver through crowds and go places vehicles can’t, as well as create expanded patrol range.
“These patrol tools allow us to respond during events in a quicker and more efficient manner than we would be able to do in our squads,” Lieutenant Glenn Janzer said. “Take for example the Fun Before the Fourth parade. When the parade is active, it is hard to get the squad on the parade route, but the bike patrol unit is able to respond very quickly and efficiently to calls for service along the parade route.”
In addition to the bikes and helmets, the total grant also included training for at least four officers. While not a requirement, the training, provided by the International Police Mountain Bike Association, would help officers use the bikes as a patrol asset and teach them various tactics such as proper ways to get on and off the bike when traveling at high speeds, using the bike as a use of force tool, and going up and down stairs.
“Before when we had the older bikes, there wasn’t a ton of interest. We had some interest, but now that we have these (e-bikes), everyone wants to start riding them,” Janzer added.
Though there are currently no courses for e-bikes, the lieutenant noted that training would transfer over even when using the old bikes. The courses are being offered in Milwaukee and Madison.
Pictured are the two e-bikes and, from left, Mequon-Thiensville Optimist Club Treasurer Rob Frank, Thiensville Village Administrator Colleen Landisch-Hansen, Thiensville Police Chief Curt Kleppin, Police Lt. Glenn Janzer, MTCF Grants Chairman and Village liaison Ron Gibb, MTCF President Lori Lorenz and Thiensville Village President Van Mobley.