Alpharetta police officer Amanda Clay’s passion for her hometown is indisputable. When iCan Bike, a one-week summer camp that teaches kids and adults with disabilities how to ride a bike, was in danger of being disbanded in 2015, Clay and her partner, officer Allen Elfreth, rescued it. “We thought, ‘We’re the bike unit. If not us, then who? Our citizens deserve this. Our community deserves this,’” explains Amanda. When she was 14, Amanda was introduced to the Alpharetta Police Department via the Police Explorers program, which allows children and young adults to learn about law enforcement. So in 2011, when Amanda became a sworn officer, it was no surprise that she joined the department’s Bike Patrol Unit two years later . “I like the opportunity to interact with people. They’re not just citizens I serve; they’re my neighbors. This is where my family lives. It’s where I grew up. I’m invested,” she says.
Each year, Amanda and her partner raise money to cover the cost of running iCan Bike. “It costs about $15,000 to run one week of camp,” she says. “But it’s worth it. Kids come in on Monday and they can’t ride at all. By Friday, they’re lapping you in the parking lot.”
Amanda found more than a career through the Explorers program; she also met her husband, Jonathan Hickel, when they were enrolled in Explorers. Now they run the program together. Jonathan even helps with iCan Bike. “I’m so fortunate that I get to partner, in every sense of the word, with the love of my life,” Amanda says affectionately. When they’re not hanging out at home with their German shepherd, Lekso, a retired police dog, Amanda and Jonathan like to visit their favorite restaurants. On date night, they head to Village Tavern so Amanda can indulge in her favorite appetizer. “Their Freshly-Fried Potato Chips are pretty rock solid.” For a casual evening with friends, they prefer Taco Fiesta, a spot where they can play trivia and Jonathan can dig into Chori-Pollo, a grilled chicken breast covered in chorizo. During her rare solo moments, Amanda bikes on the Big Creek Greenway trail. “I think our world is better by bike, but I’m a little biased.”