Two IU Police Department officers were assigned to a new motorcycle unit that began patrolling the first week of July, but they had already known each other since birth.
After hearing that IUPD was purchasing two Harley Davidson Road Kings for a group focused on pedestrian safety, officer Mathew Lewis, 28, applied. After eight years of riding motorcycles, he said he knew he could handle himself on a bike. His brother, Nick Lewis, 34, also applied.
Nick Lewis began riding dirt bikes when he was 9 years old.
“I was happy when I heard we’d be working in the same career field, but it’s great that we’re working in the same department and now the same unit,” Nick Lewis said.
The Lewis brothers are from Ellettsville, Indiana. Growing up, the two never showed an interest in law enforcement.
“There was not any outside influence for us to become police officers,” Mathew Lewis said.
After Nick Lewis graduated from high school, he joined the United States Army Reserve and enrolled at Ball State University.
“I didn’t really have any idea of what I wanted to do for a career until around my sophomore year of college,” Nick Lewis said.
After a year and a half at Ball State, a friend of Nick Lewis' recommended he join the Police Academy at IU. In 2004, he transferred to IU to study informatics and applied as a cadet for IUPD. Nick Lewis said he was drawn to a career in law enforcement by the unpredictable nature.
Mathew Lewis, 28, also struggled to find a career he was invested in. After high school, he enrolled at IU studying informatics and criminal justice. While in Bloomington, he was looking for a part time job and saw his brother enjoying law enforcement. Later that year, he applied for IU’s Cadet Officer Program.
“I wanted a part-time job that didn’t involve something boring like flipping burgers or pumping gas,” Mathew Lewis said. “I thought this would be unique.”
Before working on the police force, Mathew Lewis said he couldn't relate to police officers.
“Until college, I viewed police officers as inhuman or some sort of robot in uniform,” Mathew Lewis said.
However, his perspective has changed, and he said he now sees people in uniform as human, not as a perfect authority.
Since they've been working together on the new unit, the brothers have found advantages of their relationship.
“Having a friendly face that I’m familiar with helps,” Nick Lewis said. “Working with people you like makes your job that much better.”
The two also realized that they can ask each other favors during work, such as Nick Lewis covering Mathew Lewis’ calls so he can got home and let his dog, Jetta, out.
Growing up, the two were not as close because of their six year age gap. However, over time they have developed a strong bond. On Tuesday, the pair got back from a vacation they took to Vancouver together.
“We’ve always been really close with each other,” Nick Lewis said. “Now that we’re older our age gap doesn’t make as big of a difference in our relationship.”
Working closely together on the motorcycle unit has led to the brothers communicating more, Nick Lewis said. The unit utilizes the speed and size of motorcycles in order to educate the public on and enforce traffic laws.
“IU’s campus is very congested during school hours,” Mathew Lewis said. “A motorcycle allows us to get places easier than a car typically could.”
Units on motorcycles, much like units on bicycles, are able to maneuver through lanes and fit in smaller areas where police may need to direct traffic with little interference.
In addition to being more portable than a typical police car, the motorcycles are also much faster than the bicycles used by IUPD. The speed of these motorcycles allow IUPD to better manage their small staff.
“We are short staffed right now and so usually we are responding from call to call,” Capt. Craig Munroe said. “Mathew and Nick work our day shifts, and now they are able to focus on pedestrian safety.”
A previous version of the photo caption incorrectly spelled Mathew Lewis' name. The IDS regrets this error.