A recent crowd control practice for bike-mounted cops in Delaware, Ohio, had a thrilling twist: rather than using volunteer protesters, organizers staged a zombie apocalypse to make the day more exciting for cops and volunteers.
The event was part of the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) bicycle-response team training, and attracted 40 officers from 25 different agencies. While the officers came to hone their crowd-control skills, the zombies certainly added to the appeal.
Maureen Becker, executive director of IPMBA, says that using the undead also helped attract more volunteers—an important component of teaching hands-on crowd control. In the past, IPMBA used volunteers in street clothes, but turnout was low. Staging a zombie apocalypse, however, lured greater numbers of “undead” helpers. “Zombie enthusiasts get to dress up in costumes and act like zombies while serving their community and contributing to a valuable training exercise,” says Becker.
While novel, the training was a key exercise for the bike cops. “It is important for agencies that work together to train to the same standard,” says Mo Ibrahim, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington DC. “Most agencies aren’t large enough to deploy a large bicycle response team, but if they train together, they are able to provide cohesive mutual aid.” The simulations not only help teach bike police how to deal with crowds, he adds, but how to use bikes more effectively during everyday operations.
And what were the zombies demanding? “The protesters homed in on beer as the reason for their protest. Chants of ‘Beer lovers of America unite,’ ‘No more cheap beer,’ and ‘I get the first six-pack’ were heard from the crowd,” says Becker. (You can watch a video of some of the training here)