Fourteen police officers from various departments on Martha’s Vineyard are receiving a three-day training to properly ride a mountain bicycle. The training is being conducted on the Edgartown Police Department’s grounds by Sgt. Jeffrey Watson of the Medway Police Department.
Watson has been training police officers to ride mountain bikes since 1995. He also teaches for the Municipal Police Training Committee. Watson used the experience he accumulated to form his own business in 2009, Police Mountain Bike Training, through which he provides training to police officers all over Massachusetts.
Watson said the training teaches officers how to conduct themselves on mountain bikes and how to handle one. The first two days of training teach the officers how to control the bicycles in a safe manner, such as riding around curves and down stairs. The final day trains officers on different scenarios, such as defense and crowd control.
“The bicycle is a phenomenal community policing tool. It gets our officers out of the cruiser and to interact with the community more,” said Watson. “We do see that an officer on a bicycle is far more approachable than an officer in a car.”
Watson said bicycles provide benefits to the officers. Bicycles allow for increased mobility for officers, especially during the tourist season, are great for the officers’ health, and local businesses enjoy seeing the officers patrolling on their bicycles. Watson hopes this can be an annual training, since otherwise officers would need to go off-Island to receive it. He said while many of the officers were already great bicycle riders, there is a difference between a regular person riding compared with how a police officer needs to ride a bicycle. Police officers on bicycles need to ride on different types of terrain, alongside being able to respond to various situations.