Sewickley police officer finds new perspective on bike patrol
Officer David Yurkovac has been going places that other members of the Sewickley Borough Police Department simply can't.
Yurkovac quickly has become one of the more recognizable members of the police force to the public, thanks to the time he has spent on bicycle patrol.
“That's just an extra thing that I do,” Yurkovac said. “Really, anyone can ride the bike, but I've had experience on it before. They basically told me that's one of the things I'd be doing and assigned me the position. But I enjoy it.”
Most of his time spent on the bike has been during town events, such as Memorial Day weekend festivities, 5K runs or Sewickley Unleashed. Being able to navigate through the town during such crowded events has been a tremendous asset.
“The bike gives you the advantage of getting to places that a car just can't go, whether it's riding on the sidewalk or through an alleyway,” Yurkovac said. “You can see things sometimes better, too, on the bike.”
A graduate of Ambridge High School, Yurkovac had spent time working in Leetsdale, Edgeworth, Sewickley Heights and Sewickley part time before being hired full time in Sewickley in March, and he's glad to be here.
“Sewickley offers that nice personal feel talking with the public,” Yurkovac said. “We have a great business district, and you see people more often and get to talk to them. But also being on the boulevard and near Pittsburgh, you have plenty going on there as well.”
Since his hiring, Yurkovac has taken advantage of his bicycle patrol to get to know the town in a way that a patrol car wouldn't allow.
“They like seeing that you're on street level, basically,” Yurkovac said. “When the public sees you in the car it's like you're in that little bubble. It seems like when they see you on the bike, they're more open to talk to you.”
The bike is used for more than just event patrol, though. If there are enough available officers at any time during the week, Yurkovac likes to hop on the bike and cruise the town for an hour or two at a time to take a break from his regular patrol car duties, he said.
“It's a specialized police bike,” Capt. Rich Manko said. “It has red and blue lights and sirens just like a car. Its designed specifically for beat patrol. Not that I'm old, but it's a younger guy's position. He could be at one end of town and have to hustle to the other end.”
While members of the town certainly have felt more comfortable around the less-threatening presence, they should be forewarned not to take any officer on bicycle patrol for granted.
“People have to obey,” Yurkovac said. “If you see the red and blue lights, you have to stop. I can do anything on that bike as if it was my car.”
But ultimately, the police bike is here for the purpose of serving the people of Sewickley.
“It's a great thing for the town,” Yurkovac said. “The public can see you in a different light than how they normally see you. I've had nothing but great comments. During these events, people want to stop and say hi and look at the bike.”
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @GHorvath_Trib.
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