POSTED 3:48 PM, AUGUST 18, 2014, BY SHEVAUN BRYAN, UPDATED AT 10:45AM, AUGUST 19, 2014, WHNT-19 NEWS
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – In 1998, Huntsville police puts cops on bikes.
Today the squad has over a dozen officers keeping an eye on foot traffic.
“Ever since they started bringing more events downtown, we bring more officers downtown on bikes,” said Sergeant Mark Shahan, the Traffic Task Force Supervisor for the Huntsville Police Department.
From the Art Stroll to the Street Food Gathering, more people are walking through the city…and more Huntsville police officers are rolling to keep them safe.
“We ride through and make sure nothing’s going on, make sure everything’s running up to par,” said Justin Beckles. Officer Beckles has been on bike patrol for a year and says the unit is proof that Huntsville PD is adjusting to the city’s increasingly walkable culture.
“I believe that was the whole goal of the bike patrol, was to have the mobility and be able to get to places a lot quicker,” said Beckles.
Not only do bikes help officers navigate downtown crowds, they say it also helps them be more social with the public.
“It opens the officer up to people,” said Sgt. Shahan, “driving a patrol car, there’s a door between you and them. It’s kind of like a psychological barrier.”
“Bike patrol and foot traffic is just a good mesh-together rather than trying to put cars in the middle of pedestrians,” said Beckles.
Shahan says Huntsville Police have more bikes now than ever, and what started as a special event patrol has become a part of Huntsville Police’s everyday presence.
“Sometimes they come randomly when we don’t have anything going on, so they can still be seen, that way you’ll know that they’re here at all times.”
The bike patrol squad looks forward to continuing to grow with the city’s downtown needs.