KIRKUK, Iraq — Being a police officer is usually not easy, but soon it may be as easy as riding a bike.
Approximately 30 Iraqi Police attended bicycle police training at the Kirkuk Police Academy Nov. 15, part of the ongoing effort to establish community policing practices in the city.
Many of the police officers had never seen or heard of a bicycle cop before, but soon they themselves will be the first group to begin operating in Kirkuk city.
“I have never seen any riding around Kirkuk,” explained one of the trainees, Adrees Ali Arnoos, a policeman from the Qoria Police Station in Kirkuk. “I am very excited to be part of the first group.
“This is something that could really help the people,” he continued.
The major benefit is it gives the IP an opportunity to be more mobile than a foot officer, and it starts conversations with the locals, because they see something new, said James Olsen, an international police advisor, who served six years as a bicycle cop before coming to Iraq.
According to Olsen, the police can use these bicycles as a tool to help them get more involved in the community. The idea behind community policing is that an officer gets to know his community in depth by working closely with, and talking frequently to, its residents.
The police officers receiving these bicycles will have a total of five days of training, where they will learn how to put the bikes together, maintain them, ride them, and operate while on them.
The idea is to train them in what they need to know to be an effective bicycle police officer, explained Olsen.
Once the training is complete, the police officers will return to their stations as fully- trained bicycle cops.
“This is really going to help us in traffic,” said Adrees. “It is much easier to get around in markets than with a car.”
“The intent is for these guys to be able to go out and patrol market places where vehicles cannot,” Olsen explained.
These police officers can do all kinds of police work from their bicycles, said Olsen.
“A bicycle cop can and does any kind of police work that involves you being right there on the scene,” said Olsen.
This can include arresting shoplifters, breaking up domestic disturbances, apprehending criminals, and much more, depending on the area the cop is working in, said Olsen.
Olsen is planning on conducting advanced bicycle police training with the police officers who graduate this course after they have had time to go out on the street and practice basic bicycle-policing skills.