North Carolina Department of Correction news release

Hendersonville probation and police officers are bikers

SEPTEMBER 28, 1998

HENDERSONVILLE — Probation officer David Oates is making his presence known in Hendersonville. Dressed in black bike shorts and a black shirt, complete with a badge and the words "Probation Officer" emblazoned on the back, Oates is hard to miss as he rides his bicycle along city streets, through neighborhoods and around parks with Hendersonville Police Officer Jim Schandevel.

Oates and Schandevel teamed up this past spring to take the Department of Correction’s community policing initiative to a new level. By leaving behind their offices and the comforts of their cars in favor of policing by bike, Oates and Schandevel have made themselves more visible and accessible to members of the community, resulting in an increased sense of safety.

"The response from the community to see a uniformed probation officer out on bike patrol with a police officer has been great. We tend to draw a crowd wherever we go," Oates said. "They are glad to see a probation officer out in the community. Before, when we were just riding around in our cars, they didn’t know it was us, they didn’t realize that probation officers were out there."

Over the past year, the Division of Community Corrections has been working to implement the new community policing partnership in cities across the state by forming partnerships with local police departments. By working side-by-side at traffic stops, riding together in police squad cars and sharing desks at community policing substations in low-income housing neighborhoods, probation and police officers learn more about each other. They also build a spirit of cooperation that makes communities safer.

Riding bike patrol is just one more way that probation and police officers can work together. Oates said other communities should consider following Hendersonville’s lead.

"I think a lot more areas can use this," he said. "When we first started out, I thought it would be a lot of fun – I had no idea that it would be this effective."

Oates said on a typical four-hour ride through town, he can make 10 to 15 home visits, not to mention the contacts he makes just by running into people on the street or riding through the parks. In fact, Oates said he can make home visits by bike much quicker than he ever could by car, because now he can just ride right up to people’s front doors without having to park his car and lock it up. Sometimes he doesn’t even have to get off his bike.

In addition to the convenience of making home visits, Oates said traveling by bike has other advantages such as allowing the officers an up-close view of the community.

"When you are on your bike, you can cruise through parks and other areas where some of your probationers may be up to no good," he said. "When you are in your car, you may ride by the park and never even see them."

Through their work together, Oates and Schandevel said they have been able to build a true partnership between the probation and police officers.

"The community policing effort has been really positive," Schandevel said. "The biggest asset is that a lot of the police officers now know who is on probation, so that increases the supervision for the probation officers," he said. "Also, it helps the police department track who’s been re-arrested which helps us predict and solve crimes. By having the two agencies work together, we are able to share a lot of valuable information."


NC DOC Homepage
E-mail NC DOC