Four police officers assigned to Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) completed training June 12-15 designed to teach them how to use bicycles to protect and serve the community.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Vladimir Mejia, Cpl. Kristopher Savoy, Cpl. Joseph Williams and Master at Arms 1st Class Sarah Wood completed the 32-hour, four-day Law Enforcement Bicycle Association Basic mountain bike officer course taught by police officers from the Charles County Sheriff's Office.
The course included training about avoiding and treating bicycling injuries, nutrition, safety gear, firearms training and traffic enforcement. The group participated in 12-20 mile training rides every day and learned technical cycling skills such as emergency braking, accident prevention, power slide and cross over techniques.
For Wood, a 19-year Navy veteran, the training was challenging but enjoyable, especially the rides that took the group through scenic St. Mary's River State Park. "The stuff that was challenging was mostly fun. The skill sets were pretty tough, like trying to maneuver tight corners."
Participating in the training alongside the "civilian" police officers was a joy for NSASP's newest bike officers. "As a Master at Arms, it's great to train with the civilians because you get to learn different techniques for dealing with incidents and you get to network," said Wood. "I was kind of worried they would treat us differently since we were from the base but all the police officers treated us great and were interested in what we do here."
Wood spoke highly of the officers from the Charles County Sheriff's Office who instructed the course. "The guys teaching the course, Cpl. Lee Potter and Sgt. Robert Vaughn, were really knowledgeable," she said.
The use of bicycles for police work is common these days and Wood cited some of the ways bike officers increase the capabilities of their departments.
"The bike is a valuable tool for law enforcement because it allows you more speed than on foot and the ability to chase on most any terrain," she said. "You can negotiate better on a bike in alleyways, narrow streets and trails, quietly and quickly."
Wood also spoke about how bikes give police officers an advantage when it comes to interacting with the community they serve. "People feel more at ease with officers on bicycles."
Wood's observations mirror those of Robert Brooks, chief of the NSASP Police Department. "Having officers on bikes provides the base with officer presence in a lot of areas which may not be accessible to vehicles," he said. "The officers also have a better opportunity to interface with the community on a more personal level."
Brooks added that personnel onboard NSASP installations in Dahlgren and Indian Head can expect to see more NSASP bike officers on patrol this summer.