FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- You've probably seen or heard of police officers on bicycles and motorcycles, but the Federal Way Police Department is trying something in the middle: electric bikes.
The department believes they’re the first in the region to try this. They’ve had a bicycle unit for eight years, what they call their “Special Operations Unit.”
Last year, a member of the unit, Officer Ben Tseng had an idea. Tseng personally owns e-bikes. When the department needed new bikes, he suggested the department try out something different and the department agreed. Tseng says the department has been using e-bikes since November 2017, but they’ve already proved their worth.
On the second day of the pilot program, an officer on an e-bike helped catch a felon fleeing from a patrol car.
“When he saw the patrol car he ran off again but the electric bike officer was able to keep up with him and apprehend him, and he didn`t even know there was a bike officer behind him the whole time,” said Tseng.
There are four officers on the “Special Operations Unit” in Federal Way. Daily, two officers use the electric bikes unless it’s pouring rain.
Tseng says the e-bike has so many benefits: it’s faster, requires less energy and also has all the same benefits of a regular bike. Right now, the officers on the e-bikes mainly patrol the downtown area.
“Definitely the tighter roadways, in-between buildings, alleyways, parking lots, definitely easier to traverse,” said Tseng.
While the Federal Way Police Department is the first to use e-bikes in our region, some other departments in other states use the bikes. Tseng thinks it’s only a matter of time before other departments join the trend.
“I think with the technology of electric bikes becoming newer lighter and less expensive you’ll start seeing departments here locally and nationally incorporate electric bikes into their bicycle patrols,” said Tseng.