Sasebo security patrols run on pedal power
Stars and Stripes June 19, 2003
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Several Navy patrolmen hopped on bicycles recently to begin pedaling their security rounds — and peddling an image.
Riding their new 18-speeds, working two to a shift during daylight hours, the officers fill the same role as their colleagues in air-conditioned vehicles.
However, their job includes mingling with individuals along their routes, essentially peddling the message patrol officers are friendly, approachable individuals devoted to maintaining safety and law and order.
“It gets you more involved with public relations. It gets them out of the car and mingling with the people,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Davis, a master-at-arms and coordinator of the new Command, Fleet Activities Sasebo Bicycle Patrol.
“The bikes can also get them to a scene a little quicker than running, and they can get to narrow alleyways and behind buildings if they need to places cars can’t go.”
The pedal patrol also can influence the outlook children develop toward law enforcement personnel, Davis said.
“They can have one-on-one with the kids, every day, all the time. They can ride where the kids ride, or ride where the kids walk, and get acquainted with them. And the kids, they’ll tell you anything that’s going on.”
The nine bicycle patrol members were selected from within the security department. Then they completed about two weeks of training to further familiarize them with both the base’s layout and their bicycles.
“These bikes aren’t modified in any way,” Davis said of the six bikes used by the unit.
“We have nine patrolmen in the unit. Two work at a time, and we have one alternate. At present, we are only operating during the day,” Davis said.
Bicycle patrol members wear white shirts and blue shorts and carry side arms.
Seaman Apprentice Staci Freitas, a member of the bicycle unit, said she likes the job because it lets her get out and see the community. “I am a people person, and I look forward to meeting people while patrolling,” she said. “We’re there, and can answer questions for people.”
“They ask about what we are doing, or they might ask what is going on somewhere, or even for directions,” added Seaman Christopher Mills.