An extra 36 gardai are being trained on bikes for use in the city Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
AN additional 36 gardai are to undergo pedal-bike training as part of an initiative to increase the presence of gardai in Limerick city centre.
Superintendent Derek Smart has confirmed that 12 gardai commenced a week-long training course this Monday and that a further 24 will be trained in the coming weeks.
All of the gardai, who had to undergo fitness tests as part of the selection process, are attached to the Henry Street garda district and those being trained are split across the five regular garda units.
“People might laugh at the idea that you have to be trained to ride a pedal cycle but it’s about learning to use a bike effectively both in crime prevention and to protect themselves – the bike can be used as a shield if the lads are in any kind of a situation,” said Supt Smart.
Briefing a sub-committee of the Joint Policing Committee, he added that once the training is complete, he hopes four or five gardai will be deployed on pedal bike patrols at any one time.
“The amount of ground you can cover is phenomenal, you can be anywhere much quicker than a patrol car. You can just go around traffic, you can go down laneways and your patterns of patrol completely change,” he said.
Supt Smart says another advantage of using pedal bikes is that gardai will be able to respond to certain incidents and apprehend suspects much quicker.
“People (suspects) don’t hear you coming, you are behind them and all of a sudden you are on top of them and people have to be on their toes as well in regard to that – people have gotten complacent because they see gardai coming in the high visibility jackets and things like that – with the pedal-cycle they won’t even hear them coming,” he said.
While gardai will still be deployed on foot patrol and in patrol cars, Supt Smart says he hopes the use of pedal bikes will result in a greater garda presence in the city centre and certain housing estates.
”We will have a number of patrol patterns in and around the city centre and also covering the canal bank out as far as UL. We will also cover the various estates including St Mary’s Park and Moyross. It increases visibility and it gives me five more people on the ground so it makes better use of the resources that I have,” he told the Leader.
While the 36 gardai who are currently being trained are all attached to regular units, it is expected that members of the divisional Roads Policing Unit will also undergo training in the coming months.
There was a broad welcoming of the initiative from members of the JPC sub-committee.