By Laura Marzullo
A 20-mile endurance ride, multiple fire alarm drills and a 13-mile, multicourse mountain bike ride—four officers put their athleticism to the test in order to join the HCSO Bicycle Response Team in Lithia recently.
The Bicycle Response Team (BRT) responds to incidents of civil disobedience and large-scale special events. This involves crowd management, natural or man-made disasters and/or search and rescue operations.
In addition, “The BRT conducts routine bike patrol and bike safety presentations by request or based on the operational needs of the agency,” said BRT team leader Master Deputy Chris DePolis.
The BRT conducts a 12-hour training session once a month and may train anywhere within the confines of Hillsborough County.
Tryouts to join the team were held on June 23. Master Deputy Tim Berg, Deputy Benjamin Bergher, Deputy Alex Patron and Deputy Dan Samec all successfully joined. They prepared for tryouts through additional MTB trail riding, distance road riding, weightlifting and cardio exercise.
“I began supplementing with additional cardio that started at 5 miles, and built up to 8-mile daily rides prior to my daily weightlifting routine, and concluded my workouts with added stretching to prevent injury and increase my flexibility,” said Patron.
Another new member of the team, Bergher, prepared by taking trips to the “HCSO Range in Lithia for shooting in the morning with some mountain bike riding in the afternoon at Alafia State Park.”
Patron has a passion for exercise and weightlifting, which they found through serving five years as a military police officer in the U.S. Army. After they got out of the military, they took the International Police Mountain Course in June 2020 and instantly fell in love with mountain biking.
“I wanted to find a specialty team that combined my passion for fitness and being a first responder, so I knew the Bicycle Response Team was where I wanted to be,” exclaimed Patron.
Being able to intertwine your career and hobbies is a dream.
“It means the world to me to be able to service my community in a capacity that allows me to do what I love,” said Bergher.
For more information on the HCSO Bicycle Response Team, go to teamhcso.com.