The Ohio State University Police Division’s second-annual Pedal with the Police event took place on Thursday and aimed to educate students about on-campus safety, as well as strengthen the relationship between the Ohio State police department and students.
University Police partners, such as the OSU Bike Club, Undergraduate Student Government, Transportation and Traffic Management and Lime bike, offered students the opportunity to get their bikes fixed for free as well as gear up with free safety equipment, like helmets, bike lights, bells, and U-locks.
Cassandra Shaffer, OSUPD detective, said this event is one way to teach students how they can be proactive against bike theft on campus and take ownership of their safety.
“We realize that everyone is coming kind of from a different place and a different experience, so what we wanted to do, and hope to do, is by creating this event was to help educate students on safety as well as theft deterrence and how to keep their property safe,” Shaffer said. “This offers us a chance to work with you guys one-on-one that we normally wouldn’t have when were in a patrol car patrolling around.”
Shaffer said the event gives University Police a valuable experience to break the negative stigma around police officers and speak with students about their own experiences that the police generally don’t have access to.
“There are 50 plus of us and there’s, you know, 60,000 of you; you see, hear, and experience so much more than we’ll ever know on this campus, that we have to rely on you as a partnership to keep this place safe,” Shaffer said. “I’m hoping that if we keep invoking conversation, keep building that relationship, then it will be a really positive experience for your collegiate career.”
Maddy Perry, USG director of health and safety, said having an interaction with OSUPD has made her “feel safer on campus, knowing that these people are people” after getting to her about how passionate they are about their work.
“Being able to feel that passion makes you appreciate them more and really understand what they’re here for,” Perry said. “Making that connection and making a stronger community between students and the OSU Police Department, I feel like that just creates a better campus culture and people do feel safer knowing who these people are.”
Perry and Shaffer worked closely on the event this year after they met last year and discovered that they were both from Toledo. For Perry, connecting with an officer from her home town was an experience she wasn’t expecting to have, but has appreciated deeply.
“I think having that knowledge that someone who works for the University and is working to protect us is from my same area is like, we kind of experienced the same things and she kind of understands when I was talking about where I went to school,” Perry said. “It just feels more personal in a big school like this.”
Shaffer said there was a bike ride planned for students and police to partake in following the event, however, due to other special events going on and construction, they had to cancel the ride. In the future, they hope to have two separate bike ride opportunities for people to “take a nice bike ride and have a conversation.”
Shaffer said that conversations like those with students are a rejuvenating experience for OSUPD. She said that those community building interactions have made her consider working for the OSUPD “the best decision I ever made.”