Bike Police Officer visiting Delaware for the International Police Mountain Bike Association Conference got hands on with a group of “zombies” at the Delaware County Fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon during a training exercise.
More than 300 bike police officers from more than 30 states and three Canadian provinces are in Delaware this week for the 27th annual International Police Mountain Bike Association Conference for a week of training courses and exercises.
Wren Nealy, a spokesman from IPMBA, said Wednesday that the students spent Monday and Tuesday doing Bike Response Team training to practice working as a unit with other bike officers and learning how to respond to large crowds.
Nealy said for the final Bike Response Team exercise, the platoons of 40 officers would have to participate in exercises that deal with a large crowd that they might encounter at a festival or protest. Nealy said when IPMBA told the City of Delaware Police Department that they would need a large group of volunteers to act as the crowd, the police department gave the event a zombie theme to attract more attention. Nealy said he was surprised to learn that the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency has also been using a zombie theme to conduct similar exercises.
Nealy said around 40 people volunteered to take part in the exercise, including many people in zombie make-up and attire. Nealy said they do the training every year at the conference but the exercise has never had a zombie theme before.
He said the students would participate in a series of scenarios with varying objectives ranging from simply managing a crowd to controlling a crowd.
In the first scenario, students had to “channel” the group of volunteers from one area of the fairgrounds to another area, simulating moving a large crowd after an event like The Little Brown Jug. Officers formed lines with their bikes and directed the volunteers to leave the area in an orderly fashion.
In the second scenario, the volunteers were told to be rude and abrasive to the officers but to generally comply with their orders. The volunteers’ objective was to reach a building and the officers were ordered to direct them to a different building.
In a third scenario, the volunteers were ordered to gain access to a building and the officers practiced “target hardening,” which essentially meant blocking all the entrances to the building and trying to peel the “protesters” away from the building. Neal said this exercise helps train officers for situations where peaceful protests turn violent and rioters attempt to damage buildings.
The instructor leading the volunteers continually ordered them to yell and generally be mean to the officers because the exercise is about tearing the officer and the unit down and testing their skills and instincts.
After the scenarios, the students are given a debriefing and are given feedback on what they did right and what they can improve.
The IPMBA conferences will continue for the rest of the week and will conclude Friday with a parade through downtown just before 5 p.m.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.