GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After Michigan State Police’s tactical bike team made several arrests in a matter of minutes last week, News 8 went to the state Capitol to learn more about the team and its approach to crowd control.
MSP says it got the idea in 2016 while assisting the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. MSP started implementing the team in the state in 2017.
Last week was the first time many folks saw the team in action.
MSP’s tactical bike team entered the protest scene in Grand Rapids on June 1 just after curfew, which has since expired. Officers walked in a straight line, then moved the bikes up and down, at times coming down on protestors who refused to leave.
“I don’t think it’s always intended to land on their toes, when there is very little space there, lines can overlap,” said Trooper Jeremy Nunez, who teaches the tactical bike training for Michigan State Police.
He says that move is called a mobile fence line. There is also a mobile hold line, a crossbow line, where officers create a second line of defense and the encirclement tactic. The encirclement tactic was used on Monday, June 1 to surround and arrest protestors violating curfew.
“Verbal direction is always given prior to dynamic movements like that from the tactical bike team,” said MSP Lt. Darren Green.
Those commands were heard last week. Green said they are warnings.
“During times of civil unrest, like you have seen in Grand Rapids, the bikes are very useful for managing crowds and covering large distances that would be much harder to do by officers on foot or have to go to a patrol car and drive from point A to point B,” Green said.
On June 1, some protestors outran officers on foot. But seconds later, the bike team would return with them handcuffed.
“It is a force multiplier in crowd management situations,” Green said.
There is nothing special about the bikes — it’s what the troopers do with them that make them a tool for crowd control.
“It’s a useful tool that can be used in a lot of different ways,” Green said.
Each officer on the team completes 40 hours of training to learn commands and formations.
MSP says it plans to add 20 officers to the tactical bike team by the end of July.