by Steven Heywood - Peninsula News Review, posted May 10, 2014 at 8:00 AM
Local police officers are breaking out the shorts and T-shirts — part of the uniform for bike patrols this spring and summer.
But the officers don’t simply jump on a bike and start riding the streets, there’s a five-day training session they must complete before they patrol on two wheels.
Eight regular members and auxiliary officers of the Sidney North Saanich RCMP are taking this year’s course.
The PNR caught up with them and their instructors at the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department parking lot, where they were working on bike handling and balance drills.
Constable Scott Seutter, one of the instructors, says a summer strategy is to do enforcement in Sidney’s downtown core.
He said they’ll be providing a balanced approach — targeting pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
“It’s all about harm reduction, about trying to make our roads safer,” he said.
“It makes us a lot more maneuverable. I can ride straight in and deal with (issues).”
Using bike patrols, he said, enables officers and auxiliary members to move in crowds easier and access local parks and marinas — places where a vehicle might not necessarily be able to go.
“It’s a friendly way to approach a crowd. They talk to us about our bikes, our training, the uniforms.”
Seutter added the bike patrols also don’t attract as much attention as a police vehicle, enabling officers to approach a situation where those involved might not expect them — or realize they are the police.
The training is similar to what’s taught across the country and consists of a standard they must meet to qualify.
That includes riding in traffic, dismounting and firing drills, endurance test (16 kilometers in 35 minutes), simulations with actors and more.
At the end of the course, they must be able to demonstrate their skills on the bike and then it’s off to patrol Sidney streets.
Seutter said bike patrols are part of the RCMP’s community policing mandate.