It’s hard to miss seeing Kyle Hall around campus.
He’s a high-achieving student.
He’s a record-setting athlete.
And the double-major senior also rides high as a bicycle-riding cadet on the IU East police force.
The bike program that started this summer allows Hall and full-time officer Brad Smoker to quickly reach places on campus that they couldn’t while driving cars or while walking. “We can respond so much faster,” says Hall, who rides several hours on his two weekly shifts.
He tells about one instance where his bicycle proved essential: “Someone was stung by a bee and it was nice to get there quickly (on the trails east of campus). It’s tough to get back there quickly on foot.”
He also was able to ride up within seconds to a car accident in a parking lot – because he was right there when it happened.
Smoker knew before starting at IU East that biking would be in his future. “I ride about three hours per shift, depending on the weather,” he says. “It really helped me get to meet staff while I was riding this summer.”
He and Hall spend a lot of time riding in parking lots, on walkways and on the IU East quad. Those make positive interactions more possible with students, staff and the public. “It seems more people want to talk to me when I am on a bike,” says Hall. “The bike bridges the gap.”
Smoker agrees: “I like the community policing style,” he says. “It makes you more approachable. It really helps out.”
Speaking of helping out, when Tim Scales, director of IU East’s Center for Entrepreneurship, heard that the bike policing program would be starting last year, he immediately decided to help get it going in style.
He donated $500 of his own money and got the Academy of Business Research to match that amount to buy a Cannondale bike.
Scales had grown close to Hall and other cadets. “I really admire them. They are in my office almost every day,” says Scales, who also loved the social possibilities of the new policing style for IU East.
“It’s been a fun thing, more than a bike program,” he says. “It’s more about building relationships on campus.”
The bicycles are great new tools for relationships and for safety, confirms Burt Cole, who has been chief of the campus police department for nearly 14 years.
The new biking program got another boost when Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton and Chief Mark Connery of the Richmond Police Department donated four used Trek bikes.
“We basically got $5,000 for free,” Cole says about the gifts from on and off campus. “The response to the program has been amazing.”
Amazing also is a word that describes the success of the three-year-old cadet program, which leads to full qualifications to become a police officer in Indiana. “They will already be certified on graduation,” says Cole.
Hall and fellow senior cadet Brooke Hartwig took part in the 14-week police academy last summer at IU Bloomington. He ranked No. 1 in fitness and she was named the top female officer.
Both are criminal justice majors. He is double-majoring in political science and she is minoring in sociology.
Hartwig of Eaton, Ohio, has a perfect 4.0 GPA at IU East.
Hall carries a 3.93 GPA and was named Male Academic Athlete of the Year for 2015 at IU East. He has participated in conference-winning and record-setting events for the cross-country and track squads at IU East.
Their strong academic abilities were further displayed in September when they presented a paper they had authored along with Scales that is titled “Building a Campus Community.” It was given the Best Paper Award at the academic conference, Scales says.
Hall came to IU East from South Dearborn because he could combine all of his interests. He had heard of the longtime cadet program at Bloomington.
“The year I got here, it was implemented,” he says. “The biggest draw for me was how professors took an interest in me. At bigger schools, it’s more of a numbers game.”
Cole says students – and police and sheriff’s departments – are fortunate in Indiana: “The IU Police Academy is one of a kind. They’ve had cadets in Bloomington for 42 years,” he says. “It’s a nice program for students.”
Hall spent another week after the academy earning designation as a Certified Police Cyclist.
He excelled there, too. Among other things, he learned how to ride downstairs, to jump impediments, to bunny-hop and to brake safely in many circumstances. “It’s a lot more involved than people would think,” he says.
The cadet program and academy are great tools for working toward full-time careers. The cadets earn 12 hours toward their degrees and earn $9 per hour while working for the IU East Police Department. “Without this program, I wouldn’t be qualified when I graduate,” Hall says. “This is going to be the foundation for my career here on out.”
The two newest cadets that work in the department are juniors Brandon Lingenfelter of Brookville, Ohio, and Clint Swanson of Madison, Ind.
The process of choosing cadets is competitive. Cole is currently taking applications for the two positions that will start next year. He says it’s enjoyable working with young people who want to be police officers. “They want to be here. They want to get an education,” Cole says.
On-the-job training is just part of the mix. “Their main job is to learn,” he says about the cadets and the hours they work with the department. “We work around their schedules. Education is the most important part.”