KENTVILLE – Police in Kentville are gearing up for a new kind of patrol unit that will take them places cars cannot reach.
The town’s police service participated in a course led by Cst. Sam Côté, lead instructor of the force’s bicycle patrol for the Halifax Regional Police, who put them through their paces with drills designed to teach them how to cycle safely in different situations.
Côté became a course instructor in 2013 and says there’s more to riding a bike as a police officer than people – and officers – may think.
“It’s how to use it safely and have perfect control at slow speeds because most of the police work on a bike happens at a pretty slow speed,” he said.
Four Kentville police officers completed two days of training with Côté, riding through slow drills and around pilons their first day and graduating to off-roading on their second, cycling through several trail systems in Kentville.
This system of trails was one of police chief Julia Cecchetto’s main reasons for pursing the course for her officers.
She also hopes the patrol is seen as a “little bit cooler, and less intimidating” group of officers youths and others can approach when out in public on the trails, at the skate park and otherwise, since the bicycles can be used for about nine months of the year.
“Kentville is a perfect town for a bike patrol. We’ve got Miner’s Marsh, the Gorge and other trails, plus the downtown core with its one-way streets is probably faster for a bike to travel than a car,” she said.
The officers’ training also included how to cycle over curbs, down stairs and how to use the bicycle itself as an additional tool in different situations, like if a suspect were to run away from police in an area not accessible by car.
It also taught them to use proper hand signals and other bicycling safety measures they’ll be able to communicate to any member of the general public looking to get informed on cycling safety.
“These bikes are great because we can cycle after them and sustain that. By the time they get tired, we’re still in pursuit,” said Côté, who started the bike patrol unit during his time with Montreal’s police force, and also aided in setting others up in abroad in Haiti.
“The bicycles bridge that gap between foot patrol and motor vehicle patrol – can access places we otherwise couldn’t.”