Detective Sgt. Greg Baron said the BPD is getting serious about providing the protection that the two newest vehicles make possible.
Baron was with Sgt. Jordan Tindol, Field Training Officer John Berry and Patrolmen Salvadore Sanchez, II and Josh Sexton this week as the officers went through a three-day, 24-hour training program to become state certified on the machines.
“These are actual police vehicles,” Baron said of the two latest additions to the BPD’s ATV fleet.
Two others purchased earlier have been used primarily for testing purposes.
The new ATVs are street legal, equipped with headlights, taillights, turn signals and emergency red and blue lights.
“If you see them on the street,” Baron said, “that doesn’t mean you can ride your ATV on the street.”
The same goes for motorists who might look up and see an officer on an ATV trying to make a traffic stop.
“If you see the blue ATV behind you with lights and ‘POLICE’ markings on the vehicle, it really is the police,” Baron said.
The sergeant said officers already have adopted an official helmet for the ATV group. But work is still underway on designing a special uniform for the officers who will patrol on the vehicles.
Baron said the outfits will include a long-sleeved shirt and long pants that can protect the officers from the weather.
The course the officers are taking has two parts. The first portion of the training is written by the National ATV Safety Institute, and Baron is certified to teach that.
Chris Goss, another certified ATV instructor from the Baytown Police Department, has been in town this week to instruct the officers on other uses of the machines.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the officers spent the day on the BPD’s firing range learning to use their handguns while patrolling on an ATV.
The use of ATVs is new in this part of the country, Baron said. Nueces County uses some of the vehicles. But most other law enforcement agencies in this part of the state are not officially patrolling with them.
Baron said the ATVs allow officers to get into many parts of the city where patrol cars cannot go.
That includes Poesta Creek, city parks, wooded areas and even some parts of neighborhoods.
In all, seven BPD officers will become certified to use the ATVs. Baron hopes the department will eventually be able to add two more vehicles to its fleet.
ATV officers will always patrol in pairs.
“We are excited about our ATV program,” Police Chief Joe Treviño said. “It’s another tool in our tool belt.”
“The advantages are limitless,” the chief said. “Offering these officers this training will make them better officers. They will be very well trained in ATV use and tactics in order to perform safely and limit liability.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.