The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office owns a small fleet of mountain bikes, two of which are new and garaged at the Sisters substation. Lt. Chad Davis who heads the station and Deputy Brian Morris inaugurated routine bike patrol in Sisters last week. On a few occasions over recent years deputies on bikes have only been seen during events like the Rodeo and Folk Festival ridden by countywide officers.

Now, Davis says, Sisters can expect to see patrolling most every day of the week during good weather months from one to four hours per day. The patrol area will be limited to downtown and areas frequented by tourists such as Creekside Campground.

“When we drive into the campground by car, people automatically wonder if something is wrong,” said Davis. “If we come in on bike, the reaction is instantly better, a friendlier encounter where campers initiate welcomes and dialogue.”

It’s assumed that everybody can ride a bike, but the deputies must in fact be certified. A certification event was held May 12. Some 10-12 officers are now certified in DCSO, with more to come.

Patrols will be solo or team depending on activity in town. The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show event on Saturday, July 10, will be a perfect example, Davis says, of the efficacy of bike patrols. Events like this may include deputies from other county assignments to join the bike force, enabling the officers to cover more territory more quickly and with more presence.

While each bike has a supply of forms, notebooks and extra water in the rear-mounted saddle bag, the bikes will never be far from the SUV equipped with bike racks. Calls outside the bike’s response range or need for tactical gear means the “mother ship” must be fairly close.

“The bikes, apart from their navigational efficiency, are more about community policing and a bit of public relations,” Davis said.

He is a strong advocate for getting officers out of their cars and up close to the citizens they serve. The public response is universally positive, reports Davis.

The bikes are not out of the ordinary. They are standard mountain bikes suitable for pavement, gravel, and maintained trails, not for competing on Peterson Ridge. Equipped with only seven gears they still provide plenty of flexibility. Any casual observation identifies them as belonging to law enforcement.

“Merchants seem pleased with the bike’s presence and children particularly like encountering us on our bikes,” Morris offered.

He hopes citizens will stop and engage him and his patrol mates when biking the streets as they try to assess community needs more effectively.