That understated police presence

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Police officer at the Une Autre Chose march

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – An easy police presence at the Une Autre Chose march

It is an unfortunate aspect of modern times that, here in Belgium, the police are not allowed to give permission to be photographed. So, I cannot get the friendly image I would want, the cooperative officer and the help they can offer. I can still take a photo – as long as I am not identifying the officer. I took this when, up the road, riot police and water canons were trying to control football hoopoligasns. Just 600 metres down the road, this was the police presence. A little less intimidating.
I have a couple of shots like this. Anther was immediately outside my door in  Molenbeek as the policer cordoned off the area in search of the Paris bombers.
Police in Brussels ride their bikes 365 days of the year, save the very rare days of real snow. So, they are a two-wheel presence in the city centre, every single day. Being on the bike makes them exceptionally more approachable. They can get about with a bit of speed. And these guys are far more likely to get double-parked cars to move on and leave the bike lanes for bikes. And, I have to say, I feel far safer riding the city roads when I have just passed a cycling police officer.
Now, if the city would only make a greater effort to get them in each and every corner of the city and not just the high profile tourist areas. They are needed in high-vehicular areas like Schaerbeek and Molenbeek to help establish a presence for cyclists and cycling.
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