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Vandenberg adopts bike patrol system

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, a 30th Security Forces Squadron Bike Patrol instructor, demonstrates a restraining technique on Senior Airman Steven Koster, 30th SFS patrolman, during a training course here on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff. Sgt. Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, a 30th Security Forces Squadron Bike Patrol instructor, demonstrates a restraining technique on Senior Airman Steven Koster, 30th SFS patrolman, during a training course here on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff. Sgt. Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 30th Security Forces Squadron here has recently introduced a new unit called the Vandenberg Bike Patrol to its arsenal of security operations.

The 30th SFS is in the process of posturing approximately 25 members for bicycling patrol duties to reach the unit's goal of being in full force by June.

"Currently, Vandenberg Bike Patrol members are attending a 16-hour local bike course to get comfortable on the bikes and learn basic techniques and tactics," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, 30th SFS Bike Patrol instructor. "In the future, we will be sending a select few of our members to an actual California Peace Officer Standards and Training bike course through Santa Barbara County."

Historically bike patrols were present at Vandenberg, but they were rarely utilized, said Sergeant Johnson.

"The idea came back up in late 2010," he said. "The whole idea of a bike patrol program is to enforce a proactive approach to policing rather than a reactive approach."

There are many advantages to using bike patrols. In close quarters, like a neighborhood, bicycle patrolmen can maneuver and respond more quickly than an automobile. This competency, in certain circumstances, allows patrolmen to respond to the installation's distress calls in a prompt and safe manner.

Another advantage is the base's reduction in fuel costs and emissions.

"After basic start-up costs, there really is no additional cost to the government or to the unit besides basic routine maintenance," said Sergeant Johnson. "With a bike, we are saving the cost of fuel while also becoming a more 'green' department."

One potential problem for the Vandenberg Bike Patrol is the unit's visual presence while out on patrol due to the fact that the bikes used are not harnessed with an emergency lighting system that matches the size, or emits the amount of light, of the lighting systems mounted on police automobiles. Despite visual limitations, bike patrolmen hold the same amount of authority as their counterparts who patrol in automobiles.

"Even though the patrol is on a bike, and our lights may not be as big and bright, a vehicle or pedestrian must stop for the emergency flashers on the bicycle," Sergeant Johnson said. "Individuals failing to follow directions, or stop for emergency lights on a bike, will be handled the same way as with a normal patrol."

For more information about the Vandenberg Bike Patrol, call Sergeant Johnson at 606-1702.