The notion of bicycle patrol officers requiring full riot gear sounds counterintuitive on the surface. However, in the age of car-congested cities, bike patrol officers are the natural evolution of horse-mounted police units.
The transition from massive horses to more agile bicycles has been a cost-effective transition for many major cities and small communities. Bicycles provide officers with the enhanced agility that cars, SUVs, and motorcycles cannot. But the connection between speed and the need for full riot gear may seem like something of a stretch. That is until you consider what communities are asking their bike patrol officers to do at a moment’s notice.
What Are Communities Asking Of Bike Patrol Officers?
In order to fully wrap your mind around what cities and towns are asking of bicycle officers, consider working in a protest and riot hotbed. Yes, we’re talking about Seattle, Washington.
Americans have all seen the shocking images on television and social media. Right-wing protestors march and they are met in the streets by left-wing counter-protesters. The end result is almost always flying objects, burning vehicles, and blood in the streets. In the middle of that chaos are brave men and women trying to restore order, prevent injury, and avoid fatalities. Officers in full riot gear, often utilizing protective shields, intervene to the best of their ability. What is often left out of the visual narrative is how they arrived at the scene.
While bicycle use may have begun as a way to improve community policing, these officers are now being tasked as first responders. When peaceful protestors are met with violence, bicycle patrols have the ability to deftly negotiate traffic, cross public parks, and move along sidewalks in ways other means of transportation cannot. Being the first to arrive as sparks fly between angry mobs places these officers in imminent danger. That’s why bike patrol officers require the full protection only top-rated riot gear can deliver.
What Do Bike Patrol Officers Need From Riot Gear?
Given that bicycle patrol officers are often the first on the scene of violent outbreaks, it’s essential that they are equipped with sensible riot gear. The images of heavy riot shields and bulky helmets are usually unsuitable because they inhibit movement. In order to respond to incident calls with speed and agility, officers must have next-generation riot suits and accessories. These are key assets that bike patrol officers need from the protective equipment that Haven Gear delivers.
- Lightweight: Operating a bicycle in a critical situation means hopping curbs, crossing parks, and maneuvering through traffic. The riot suit must maximize the officer’s ability to make quick turns and gain speed. A Haven Gear patrol suit weighs only 10 pounds.
- Blunt Force Protection: The Haven Gear patrol suits employ polycarbonate panels to defend against hard impacts on vital areas.
- Stab Resistant: Maneuverability should not mean sacrificing protection. That’s why Haven Gear uses rugged nylon in conjunction with hard panels to deflect sharp objects penetrations.
- Fire Resistant: The images of Molotov cocktails during riots are very real and dangerous. Haven Gear suits are engineered to resist catching fire even when an accelerant is used. The design also enables the officer to quickly remove the suit if a fire does occur.
- Hydration and Cooling: Although next-generation technology is used to design and craft Haven Gear products, intense sun and heat can prove detrimental to police officers’ health. That’s why the suits have hydration and cooling systems integrated into each one.
It’s increasingly necessary for bicycle patrol, and police officers in general, to film incidents. Violent rioters are not above claiming that vigilant peace officers were unlawfully aggressive. Haven Gear suits are body cam ready to provide a record of the facts. Sometimes the truth is an officer's best defense against nefarious individuals trying to tarnish their reputation.
In an age when violent protestors can use cellphones to mobilize, the men and women who represent the thin blue line have bicycles to reduce response times. They should have the best protective gear possible to do the job of keeping our streets safe and deserve to complete their shift safely.