Officially called the Neighborhood Patrol Unit, the Sully District Police Station’s Bike Team is a valuable asset to both the police department and the community. When pursuing a criminal, bikes can travel off-road where cruisers can’t go.
But at other times, team members are goodwill ambassadors for the police, participating in the Centreville Day parade, bike rodeos, National Night Out and bike-safety events.
Sully’s four, full-time members are 2nd Lt. Scott Reynolds and PFCs Avery Brunk, Tom Rubinstein and Zach Bargeron. And they recently addressed a meeting of the station’s Citizens Advisory Committee to explain what they do.
“One of our goals is to be visible in the community and interact with the residents,” said Rubinstein. “People can contact us to come to neighborhood events, and we’ll talk about bike safety. Kids love talking with us. And community members are always welcome to reach out to our team with any concerns about crimes occurring within our community and ask any questions they have.”
“Our team is regularly conducting proactive patrols within the Sully District to apprehend criminals and deter crime,” he continued. “We can ride our bikes around this community without being as noticeable as a cruiser is. And we routinely receive tips about crimes from vigilant community members. We also coordinate weekly with our crime prevention officer, station commander and assistant station commander to construct operations to proactively apprehend routine offenders.”
Sully’s bike team covers Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton and Fairfax Station. And Rubinstein showed slides of some of the drugs they were able to seize after making traffic stops. “We focus on our hot spots with lots of problems,” said Reynolds. “We’ll go to places that have had retail thefts or where we know drug deals are made.”
For example, after stopping a particular person, the team confiscated 814 fentanyl pills he had in his possession, as well as cocaine, a handgun and a ski mask. Police charged him with eight felonies and a misdemeanor. Another time, they pursued a known drug dealer on foot in Centreville. During the chase, the individual tossed 39, foil-wrapped fentanyl pills on the ground. He was apprehended and charged with possession with intent to distribute a Schedule II narcotic.
Bike-team members also arrested an 18-year-old who was distributing marijuana to juveniles within Chantilly. Police charged him with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. And Sully’s team even joined with Reston’s police bike team in the spring to nab a serial shoplifter.
“They do phenomenal work to keep this community safe,” said then Station Commander Rachel Levy. “They work hard and go above and beyond the call of duty.
“We can come up quietly [on a suspect] and be discreet,” said Brunk. “And when we’re looking for a missing juvenile, we can go on trails and in alleys where cruisers can’t.”
Now they can do all these things even better because Sully’s bike team is the first one in Fairfax County to use battery-powered e-bikes. They enable officers to ride farther, quicker and with less fatigue because of the vehicle’s pedal-assist feature.
To be on the team, applicants must complete a 40-hour training course. Lt. Matt Dehler, the station’s assistant commander, has previously taught it so he knows what it entails.
“The officers are highly trained,” he said. “Among other things, they have to go through cone courses, do jumps and go on long rides,” said Dehler. “They also learn how to take care of their bikes because the bikes are their tools.
“Plus, they have to go through all the same training as other officers,” he added. “This is their full-time job – and I think it’s the best one. [Criminals] are really surprised, especially at night. They don’t expect to see a cop roll up on a bicycle.”