By Hannah Esqueda

The sight of policemen biking around town in shorts and sunglasses is more likely to be found along the crowded streets of a beach town than the hilly terrain of west-central Virginia’s Rockbridge County, but the city of Lexington is bucking that trend.

The city has been outfitting a bike patrol unit of its own on and off for the past 10 years, having officers ride at night to keep an eye on the local nightlife.

“Most of our stuff is parking and alcohol enforcement, but we also check businesses at night to make sure they are locked up properly,” Officer Logan Davis said. “When you’re on a bike, it is much easier to see and hear what is going on.”

Davis is the newest member of the Lexington bike patrol, certified in July after completing a 40-hour training program in Lynchburg. The course taught Davis bike patrol protocol including how to ride through crowds, repair his bike and ride safely at night.

Now that he has seen the unit in action he said he thinks that every city should have the program.

“People are more willing to talk to us when we’re out riding in the community,” he said. “It’s a very community-centric program.”

During an evening in September Davis and his partner were riding through the neighborhoods of Lexington and came across a group of children. They were riding bikes without helmets.

“Their parents were all out on their porches watching so we got to talk to them too, and explain that the station has helmets that we give away for free,” he said. “We wouldn’t have had that interaction if we were driving around in the patrol car.”

Ambassador to the people of Lexington

Being a police officer was not Davis’s first choice for a career. The decision was not completely out of the blue as both his father and uncle were police officers in his home state of Washington.  When he was looking for a job after graduating from Southern Virginia University, Davis said it seemed like an obvious fallback.

“I felt comfortable with the choice. Growing up, a lot of different people in my life were officers so it wasn’t completely out of the normal,” he said.

Davis, 27, says he likes to travel and thought he wanted to join the Foreign Service after college and eventually become an ambassador. But, after graduating in 2007 from SVU, Davis and his wife decided it would be best if he found work locally.

“My wife was working full-time at the university, and we had purchased a house when we got married in 2006,” he said. “We had commitments, a growing family and ties to the community so we decided to stay.”

Davis lives in Buena Vista with his wife and their three children, all under the age of 4. He says he likes raising his kids in a close-knit community.

By being a part of the bike patrol unit Davis says he hopes that he can help the Lexington police force be seen as more approachable.

“There’s this idea that police are only out there to arrest people or write tickets. Bike patrol has allowed us to stop and talk with people,” he said.

“The patrol car acts like a shield between us and the community. Getting out of the car is the easiest way to combat that,” he said.

Davis still hopes to eventually join the Foreign Service, but for now he said he is content with his work helping to improve the department’s relationship with the community.

“I’m like an ambassador to the people of Lexington.”

Not a lazy cop’s assignment

Riding uphill all night during a 12-hour shift can be exhausting and Lexington’s bike patrol officers are expected to remain physically fit and train on their own.

“This is not a lazy cop’s assignment,” said Officer Andy Painter. “You can’t just sit in the car and eat cheeseburgers.”

Painter is Davis’ partner and the senior officer in charge of the bike patrol unit. He said it’s important to have officers who are self-motivated and in good shape, and sees Davis as a natural fit.

Davis said his experience with college athletics has helped to keep him physically fit and ready for the job.

During his time at SVU he competed on the wrestling and men’s cross country teams, qualifying three times for the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s national tournament in his weight class of 133 pounds.

“If I had gone to a larger school or a state school I don’t think I would have been able to compete at that level,” he said.

Davis said he was also impressed by the small class sizes that the school offered.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Davis said other than Brigham Young University and several small junior colleges, there are few options for Mormon college students.  He was drawn in by the LDS community and unique experience SVU offered.

“I immediately had a strong desire to be here, and felt like this was the place that I would be able to succeed,” he said.

After graduating Davis became the assistant coach to the men and women’s cross country team, taking over as head coach earlier this year.

“I’ve just found him to be wonderful,” SVU Athletic Director Rick Winters said. “Not only does he know the sport, but he played it as well and knows how to coach the kids.”

Davis said he chose to accept the coaching position as a way of giving back to the school and to help inspire younger runners.

“I wanted to give back to the community of running,” he said. “If you’ve never experienced it, it sounds weird, but you get close to the people you run with and you motivate each other. I love the look on their faces when they get a big breakthrough,” he said.

Davis runs a lot on his own as well, saying it allows him to relax and think things through.

“I like running because it gives me an opportunity to vent my frustration in a positive way,” he said.

An important cog in a machine

Davis’ contract with the Lexington Police Department expires next year and he is weighing his options.

“I’m going to see what happens, I haven’t decided what the next step is yet,” he said.

“We could not ask for a better officer,” Painter said. “He’s probably one of the best prospects in our department right now.”

Winters says he hopes Davis can continue to coach.

Davis said he’s ambitious and is looking for opportunities to move higher up within a profession.

“I don’t want to be chief of the department or anything like that,” he said. “I just want to be a cog in a machine, an important cog in a machine.”