PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More Philadelphia police officers detailed to bicycle patrols may be able to impress their colleagues, and citizens, with their bike handling skills, because of the tactical bike training they’re receiving.
Thirty of the department’s Police Academy graduates who were just sworn in — Tactical Bike Officers in training — left the old Police Academy Building in the Northeast, taking a group ride to the Museum of Art.
Lt. Paul Watson, assigned to the Academy, chuckled that the more brazen instructors showed their stuff, riding down the iconic Art Museum steps.
“The pedals are at 9 and 3, rear end back, you’ve got to work those brakes a little bit, but you can’t go too slow, you’ll fall over,” he said.
Sgt. Matt Maguire says the training includes sharpening their balance skills, especially when detailed to large, outdoor events.
“Just picture the Parkway here on the Fourth of July. You have to be able to handle the bike slow and steady,” Maguire said.
Quishanna Lee says she’s excited about the challenge of staying fit on bike patrol as she’s been focusing on breathing techniques, staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet.
“I think it’s really good that the police department is doing this cause it’s helping keep our bodies younger and stronger for the long haul,” Lee said.
The bike training covers everything from safety and endurance to balance drills and off road trails, so these rookies on two wheels will be ready for anything they encounter on the streets of Philadelphia.
Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan says each rookie will be paired with an experienced officer.
“They’re able to get up alleyways; they can go up on the sidewalk, they can go places cars can’t and cover so much more ground than foot beats,” he said.
Sullivan added, “These officers will be able to engage directly with the community and build relationships.”
The officers also displayed tactical maneuvers, like dismounting on the fly to pursue a suspect.
Of the police departments 6,000 officers, 250 are bike trained and assigned to patrol various neighborhoods around the city. They’re also heavily used during special events.
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and KYW Newsradio’s Steve Tawa contributed to this report.