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Gaming Guru

Alan Snel
 

Bicycle-bound security forces keep parking lots safe

25 March 2013

LAS VEGAS -- He’s the guy in the black cargo pants, neon green shirt and the Cannondale mountain bike as his vehicle and there’s a chance that Lino Haynes will be the first employee who greets you at Red Rock Resort in Summerlin.

Haynes is among the hundreds of security officers at Las Vegas’ hotel-casinos and convention facilities who roam sprawling parking lots and garages looking for the bad guys while also offering a helpful greeting to visitors.

“The bad guys see us in the bright neon shirts and they think twice about us and not what they’re about to do,” Haynes said.

Hotels deploy security patrols on two wheels such as Haynes because it allows quicker mobility than two legs, and more adroit access in confined places than motorized vehicles. The job description for these cycling patrollers transcends security. It’s also hospitality, the rolling patrol employees said.

“We try to be out in the open where guests can see us,” said Robin Butac, a 50-year-old bicycling security officer at Main Street Station in downtown Las Vegas. “The bicycle makes us very approachable.”

Boyd Gaming Corp., which owns Main Street Station, has a fleet of 12 bicycles for its 30-member security staff for its other casino properties, Butac said. All 30 security officers take shifts on the Cannondale mountain bikes, he noted.

The Las Vegas Convention Center has 14 security officers on bikes patrolling its sprawling property. Ray Suppe, the security director of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which runs the convention center, was the agency’s maiden bicycling patrol officer in 1998.

The authority’s bicycling officers even include a certified bicycle instructor who holds classes for casinos such as M Resort and South Point, Suppe said.

Jason Holmes, an authority security officer who has been on his bicycle for the last three years, said he offers not only security but also public relations for the convention visitors.

“It’s a good conversation piece,” Holmes said. “People will say, ‘Hey, I like your wheels or frame.’ It’s an opening to start a conversation.”

Las Vegas has a rich history of officers on bicycles, said former Clark County Sheriff Bill Young, who now serves as vice president of corporate security at Station Casinos. Young joined the casino operator after serving as county sheriff from 2003 to 2007.

Young said bicycle policing dates back to the 1980s, when officers on bikes roamed the Strip.

“It was the ease of getting around traffic. You can zip around cars and work that space between the car and the sidewalk,” Young said. “The mobility of that became a beautiful thing.”

That’s why 10 percent of the Station Casinos security force patrols the company’s properties on two wheels, he said. Bicycle patrols are a great deterrent against criminals casing parking lots to scout for cars containing laptops, cellphones or pocketbooks.

“The visibility is right there for the bad guys to see. The bad guys see officers on bikes zipping around the parking lots and leave,” Young said. “They’re a good law enforcement tool.”

Young said these roving security officers play a customer service role, too.

They help elderly people get their wheelchairs out of their cars or help guests find their vehicles in the sea of asphalt that functions as the parking areas.

“Those nice touches are a good point to connect with guests,” Young said. “We train our bicycle officers to look for that. And if they see a guy who doesn’t belong there, we like them to make contact with them, too.”