in Charlotte, NC and the training
coordinator for LEBA.
(Photos © J. Maus)
If the streets feel a bit safer this week, it’s because Portland is playing host to a Law Enforcement Bicycle Association (LEBA) training conference.
The Portland Police Bureau is hosting LEBA for one of their ongoing instructor training courses. Held throughout the country, the week-long course trains the officers in the many skills specific to doing police work on a bike.
I caught up with the group as they rode down Burnside (riding two abreast, taking the full lane, and nearly running a red light at MLK Blvd.) en route to a skills training session under the Morrison Bridge this morning. According to LEBA Training Coordinator Joe Scalise of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD, 15 officers from around the country are in Portland to sharpen their bike patrol skills.
Scalise said they’ve got a wide range of plans for the 6-day training course — from off-road riding to emergency braking. “Portland’s been great so far. I’ve never seen so many people on bikes. Even in the rain!”
Scalise is a big proponent of bike-mounted police officers. He said they’re a much a cheaper and effective way to patrol the streets. In his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, Scalise says they’ve got 30 full-time bike officers in the uptown area, 20 others scattered throughout the city and “several hundred more” who are trained in bike patrol.
Here in Portland, bike patrol officers have been awarded by the bureau for their “immeasurable impact” on the communities they serve. Unfortunately, because of what they claim are budget woes and a lack of manpower, the Portland Police Bureau has only four full-time bike patrol officers.
The recent precinct consolidation has led the bureau to put the Southeast Bike Patrol Unit — the only one outside of downtown Portland — on temporary hiatus, leaving downtown’s Central Precinct as the only part of town with active unit.
The LEBA training session will run through Saturday.