The boots on the bottom for the Fairfax County Police Division embody the quite a few bicycle squads cruising all through the county, maintaining communities protected whereas interacting with the general public each day. These bicycle squads, known as Neighborhood Patrol Items “take away the barrier between the officers and the general public,” stated Sgt. Scott Shafer, a police spokesperson who began his profession as a part of the bike staff primarily based out of the Franconia District Station. “They get pleasure from that outreach,” he stated of the bike officers.
There are about 60-70 bicycle officers within the numerous districts across the county, divided into items of as much as eight riders and one captain. It could appear the climate would have some influence, however it’s a year-round obligation that many of the first-year officers take part in whereas they climb the ladder by way of the ranks.
“They actually are outfitted to be out in all climate,” Shafer stated.
There are specific occasions all year long that the neighborhood patrol items often work, corresponding to native parades or the Nationwide Night time Out within the late summer season. These alternatives have been restricted this yr because of the pandemic. The bike patrol groups usually obtain particular assignments when considerations are raised by neighborhood members or on the path of the commanders at every district station. For instance, the Neighborhood Patrol Items have been a part of the arrest at Springfield City Middle in January 2019 when a suspect was videoing within the dressing room. A NPU was concerned in one other arrest when a fugitive escaped at Mount Vernon Hospital final winter, they usually have been concerned in one other residential housebreaking in 2018. As a result of nature of this kind of patrol, they have been capable of be current in a neighborhood the place robberies have been reported, and didn’t appeal to as a lot consideration as a squad automobile could have.
Reston has numerous bike paths going by way of the neighborhood and this offers an excellent NPU atmosphere, so the Reston bike squad places in loads of miles, whereas different districts are rather less rideable. Mount Vernon, for example: the NPU riders do often go on the Mount Vernon bike path, however that’s predominantly patrolled by the Nationwide Park Service.
“All of the bike patrols throughout the county are fairly energetic,” stated Shafer.
There are some guidelines for the bike officers to comply with, each qualifying to be a rider and guidelines of the street, specified by Fairfax County Police Division normal order #530.4, dated July 1, 2012. “It shall be the coverage of the Fairfax County Police Division to implement using bicycles by officers every time such strategies will lead to an improved degree of service to the neighborhood,” the order states. Bicycle officers should undergo a coaching course and full a “ride-along,” with one other officer earlier than official obligation begins. No less than two bike officers should work collectively on a patrol, and they should put on a helmet and ballistic vest.
The bicycles they use are mountain bikes made by Trek, Cannondale and Volcanic.
At Volcanic, “police mountain bike” is one in all their particular fashions.
In 2005, a police officer in Seattle complained that the patrol bike was breaking down, and that’s how Volcanic began making a rugged bike that many police departments throughout the nation use, together with Fairfax County. “Volcanic APB (Strategy Patrol Bicycles) are designed and manufactured particularly for the bicycle patrol business to the requirements required to resist the pains of each day patrol,” their web site states.