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Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Nyland, 22, maneuvers his police patrol bike through safety cones during training at the Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, support site base.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Nyland, 22, maneuvers his police patrol bike through safety cones during training at the Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, support site base. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Nyland, 22, maneuvers his police patrol bike through safety cones during training at the Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, support site base.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Nyland, 22, maneuvers his police patrol bike through safety cones during training at the Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, support site base. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Dustin Kling, 24, practices using his bike as a barricade between himself and his instructor, New York police officer and Reservist Petty Officer 1st Class John McCoy, while Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Nyland looks on.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Dustin Kling, 24, practices using his bike as a barricade between himself and his instructor, New York police officer and Reservist Petty Officer 1st Class John McCoy, while Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Nyland looks on. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Newly certified masters-at-arms — the Navy’s police officers — relaunched bike patrol units in Naples last week.

The Naval Support Activity Naples security department’s bike unit had been dormant for about 18 months after staffing shortages forced supervisors to cut programs. But a revival in master- at-arms numbers means the bike patrols are back on track, said Chief Petty Officer Brandon Ward, who is in charge of the new program.

The security department went from a peak of 365 masters- at-arms a few years ago to its lowest roster count of 180, putting a tremendous strain on staffing of shifts, Ward said. Now the base is bringing the roll call up to 275 personnel.

The Naples department has eight bikes: three of which they already had from the previous unit, and five inherited from the security department of Naval Support Activity La Maddalena, a Navy base shutting down in about eight months.

“Bikes allow for easier access to areas than a car, and we get better visibility out there in the community,” Ward said. “And a lot of kids will ride with us, and they think it’s cool.”

They aren’t the only ones.

The 16 currently certified bike patrolmen (and women) all are volunteers, Ward said.

“This is a way for us to really get out and interact with people,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Dustin Kling, 24.

Naples’ security department was lucky enough to have two certified bike patrol officers/instructors from the New York City Police Department in town to provide the 20-plus hours of training. The two – Petty Officers 1st Class John McCoy and David Cussen — are Navy reservists who came to Naples for their two-week training commitment.

“These guys know what they’re doing … they’ve scrapped with and deal with some of the nastiest people all the time,” said Kling. McCoy and Cussen work undercover narcotics in New York City riding bikes.

The training doesn’t merely focus on how to ride a bike, said McCoy, 41, a police officer for three years and reservist for 17.

“We’re not teaching the basics and fundamentals,” he said. “We’re teaching them how to use the bike, safety procedures and such.” Tactics include using their 16-pound Smith & Wesson brand mountain bikes as weapons or barricades, he said.

The bike patrols primarily will be for sailors E-4 and below — those not allowed behind the wheel of the police cruisers, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Perez, a field commander tasked with getting the program off the ground.

For now, the units will patrol only at the support site in Gricignano, which is the primary housing complex and has the Navy Exchange, commissary, movie theater, bowling alley, pool and other amenities.

“I’d like to get about 30 MAs certified, and have them be E-4 and below — that would give them something better than the foot patrols,” Perez said.


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