On June 6, the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, including Eastern student athletes, faculty and staff, took off at 8:06 a.m. from the police department parking lot at the corner of High Street and Charter Oak Road. The run made its way through campus, past the Foster Clock Tower and then, the streets of Willimantic. A crowd of onlookers supported the runners along the Eastern campus route.
Police officers from Derby, Milford, Norwich, the University of Vermont and the Connecticut State Police converged on campus in May, June and July to learn how to effectively ride a bike while on patrol. Eastern police officers Jim Salvatore and Jene Comstock were among those participating in the class.
Lt. Thomas Madera, operations commander for Eastern's Police Department, served as lead instructor for the class. Madera taught police officers how to maneuver through tight spaces; climb curbs and stairs; how to ride in traffic; learn proper use of gears; effectively use their brakes; defensive tactics; and how to balance at slow speeds.
"Riding a bicycle may seem easy," said Madera. "After all, most everyone has ridden a bike before, and fallen off many times. Police officers whose primary duty is to ensure public safety have a heightened sense of duty and responsibility to hone the skill of bike riding, as they often find themselves in crisis situations. The bike also enables officers to more easily engage in community policing -- interacting more closely with individuals; gaining their trust; and letting them know we are their friends and caretakers, there to ensure public comfort and safety as much as possible."