"Police bike patrolling brings us closer to people and lets our city breathe"
- "By patrolling on a bike, we promote a healthy lifestyle. It is very important for us to be close to citizens, to respond promptly to their requests for assistance in parks areas, for example, where the access of service cars is more restricted. Patrolling on a bike allows us to hear any rustle, any movement, any noise or talk," says Marina Iordachi, commander of the police bike patrol officers from Chisinau.
Since 2017, police officers on bikes patrol Chisinau
A police bike patrol unit was launched in Chisinau in 2017 with the support of the U.S. Government. "Since we started patrolling in 2017, I would not change that for anything else, even if it's a car…," says Marina Iordachi, a convinced promoter of single-track vehicles. Marina admits that the idea of patrolling on a bicycle seemed initially to be a piece of cake: "When I was called for the first time by my superior, he told me -" You will start patrolling on a bike", I said "Well, I think you're joking". After 2–3 months, some meetings were organized, where a U.S. instructor was present, and so I realized that it is something serious. […] Before we started patrolling on bikes, I thought that it was easy - I get on a bicycle and go patrolling. "
Tactics and manoeuvres on two-wheel
The trainings she benefited from meant a lot of theoretical knowledge, but also practical skills. Marina understood why she was complaining before on joints and back aches: because of the wrong posture. She learned to master the bicycle, which she no longer sees as an accessory, but as an organic part of herself: "What I noticed from my own experience is that the bicycle is part of the body, if I pull myself back I have to pull the bicycle back as well, or if I take a step forward I have to go with it a step forward. It's like a working partner, we're a team."
Marina, as well as her colleagues who benefited from the trainings, now knows how to execute various manoeuvres that seemed once impossible, such as cycling on stairs or roaming through the crowd. She knows how to defend herself, ensure people's security and neutralize those who violate the public order. All these done while manoeuvring the bike.
From disciple to mentor
Due to her perseverance, Marina became the commander of the police bike patrol unit from Chisinau. Now she is the one training her peers from other cities in the Republic of Moldova: "At the moment, we organized some training courses for colleagues from Cantemir and Leova, who do not have the basic level of training in bicycle handling. I have more confidence when my colleagues listen to me, ask me questions, I also improve myself as an instructor, being open and sharing everything I have learned."
To be a police woman – a genuine vocation
"Being a police woman? It does not matter to me that it is a woman or a man, we have the same rights and of course we fight for gender equality. You have to be punctual, responsible, you do what you say you will, you do not delay", says Marina.
She says that her position comes with responsibilities. As a commander, she has to maintain the team spirit: "When you communicate not like a boss but as a friend, your colleague is more prone to tell you what the issues are, you have to understand everybody, to assess the situation, and of course I am proud to be a police woman and a leader of the police bike patrol unit. It gives me more confidence." Citizens are pleasantly surprised by the bike patrols "Even now we meet citizens who are amazed by the fact that we are patrolling. Their reaction is positive, they like it… Knowing that we are present in some areas, a lot of people want to take pictures with us. We meet many tourists from other countries," says Marina Iordachi.
She thinks bike patrols bring the police officers closer to the community they serve: "I have personally noticed that the relationship between us and the citizens has changed, and citizens are more open to talk to us, to ask for our help. There were cases when we were at cycling tours or patrolling in parks on very high temperatures, so they approached us, served us with a bottle of water, asked if we did not get tired of working for so many hours. They were interested in our work as police bike officers."
Bicycle, a healthy lifestyle and respect for the environment
Marina's greatest desire is to buy her own bicycle: "I like to promote a healthy lifestyle, because a police officer has to be physically fit." Sport is part of Marina's life, who also holds the title of arm-wrestling champion of the General Police Inspectorate.
Marina would like more colleagues exchange their cars for bicycles: "Of course I would come with a request to the employees who are already working as police officers and to those who want to become police officers - to give a chance to bicycles, to be part of our team, the team of police bike officers, so as to promote a healthy lifestyle together. Let go of the cars a little bit, to let the city breathe a little and reduce the amount of gas emissions."
"From my own experience, I can say it does not matter if you're a police bike patrol, a police car patrol or a police foot patrol, after all, you are still a police officer. But I will still be promoting bike patrols," concludes Marina Iordachi.
Police bike patrol units are also operational since 2019 in Balti, Cahul, Cantemir and Leova and were created with the support of the U.S. Government and UNDP within the project "Support to Police Reform in the Republic of Moldova". The assistance provided by the project is to support the implementation of the community police concept, as well as to increase the level of trust in the police.