ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — On the far northwest corner of the 195-acre Allen County Sheriff’s Training Facility, there used to be a broken-down barn overrun with trees and vermin, and a marshy pool of water that swarmed with mosquitoes, barely providing drainage to a broken tiled ditch.

But Sheriff David Gladieux saw a purpose and, taking on the role of contractor and Bobcat operator, started turning the old barn into a multipurpose training facility. Then the Allen County bike patrol asked him for a place to train.

This week, the refurbished barn, taken down to the studs and re-roofed, equipped with a kitchen and work table, is full of bikes and open as an e-bike facility, a goal Gladieux set to complete during his last year as sheriff.

Outside the barn is a 5-inch thick concrete pad the size of a football field where the sheriff’s department in partnership with city-based Recon Power Bikes will train law enforcement officers from the U.S. and abroad in e-bike patrol. Soon ramps and stairs will appear along with orange cones for training exercises.

Gladieux says departments around the country have been asking about training since last year when the project began.

“We had interest from D.C. to California,” Gladieux said.

Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux stands in the refurbished barn that will host EV bike training.

In Allen County, the current bike patrol is made up of eight to 10 officers who double as school resource officers and trail patrol, Gladieux said.

The 75-pound bikes that normally cost between $1,800 and $4,000 are produced in Fort Wayne and sold in 46 states and military like the United States Air Force and U.S. Army, according to Holsten Hunter with Recon who spoke with WANE Friday.

Recon Power has no trouble marketing or selling the bikes. Their growing popularity coincides with the federal government’s push toward electrified transportation.

The bikes have a 50-mile range before they need to be recharged on a simple 120-volt outlet. They’ll go up to up to 30 miles per hour saving officers from getting winded, leaving more physical energy to administer CPR or pursue someone on foot, Holsten said. An extra bike battery costs $450.

Officers are able to ride for longer periods of time, cutting down the need for so many officers, Holsten added. The fastest speed on a conventional bike is about 20 miles per hour.

The aluminum bikes are made with Shimano gears, Tektro brakes, and EV motors from Bafang. They’re made for 4-inch “fat” tires but Recon suggests Kenda tires that aren’t puncture proof but “very puncture resistant,” Holsten said.

Popular with campus security, for instance, security officers can get from one side of the campus to the other, cutting through the grass, riding upstairs, and flying over curbs.

Conventional bikes could weigh as little as 10 to 15 pounds, a disadvantage in law enforcement if the brakes lock and the officer flies over the handlebars.

“With the increased weight, that will not happen,” Holsten said.

Riding is also enjoyable with a motor that puts out 120 pounds of torque. “When you start pedaling it’s almost seamless because the motor kicks in,” Holsten said.

Gladieux estimates the facility project cost around $300,000, funded out of the Allen County Jail commissary. He did a lot of the work himself.

“I put in a lot of work hours, a lot of after-hours work, many, many weekends on my own time. I dug the pond along with a ‘dozer operator. We worked many late evenings, him on a ‘dozer (bulldozer), me on an excavator and we finished the retention pond. It turned out just great,” he said, looking out at the 3/4 acre pond that sits just outside the back of the training center.

When not used for e-bike training, the heavy pad will allow for conventional vehicles on it for EVOC training, Emergency Vehicle Operations Training. The Fort Wayne Police Department also has access to operations at the sheriff’s training facility, including firearms.

The land used to be a farmer’s field and in fact, the drive to the training facility that sits on about 15 acres, is lined with soybeans right now.

“We prepared the land for the pad, stripped off the topsoil, prepared the clay, rolled it and stoned it, and got it ready for the asphalt,” Gladieux said. Then came seeding the surrounding area with grass that controls runoff on to the pad. He brought in four Allen County inmates to help. In turn, they got a day away from the jail and “a little bit of a bonus on their commissary account,” Gladieux said.

“They thanked me because they’re not inside that jail and they got to get out and get some fresh air and maybe sweat off a few pounds,” the sheriff said.

Because the training facility is a work in progress, he’s hoping the next sheriff will take it under his wing. Inside the barn, there are all kinds of bikes from the Recon power bikes to tiny purple and pink bikes with training wheels and fringe.

“A couple of my guys reached out to Walmart,” Gladieux explained. They arranged to get bikes returned with some kind of damage they repair, all the way from 10-speeds to the ones with training wheels.

Bike patrol would like to start a “little mini-camp,” bringing some kids from the community to learn how to ride a bike or learn how to get better. If they can’t afford a bike, we’ve got a bike for them, thanks to Walmart,” Gladieux said.