Erie Police Officers Jason Belton and Sal Velez have been patrolling downtown Erie on bicycles, for the past month.
Thursday, May 24th 2018, 4:13 pm EDT by Emily Matson, Erie News Now
Erie police bicycle officers are apparently making an impact.
Officers Jason Belton and Sal Velez have been patrolling downtown Erie on bicycles, for the past month.
The community policing initiative is a way for officers to interact face-to-face with people.
The officers patrol the Bayfront to 14th street and Sassafras to Holland.
While community policing is a big part of what they do, they also address quality of life concerns, like panhandling, “The nice thing about being on a bike, we can go a lot of places that you can't take a cruiser in,” said Belton. “We get to interact with the people, we're seeing a lot of positive feedback from citizens, just ordinary questions from people from out of town... to addressing issues that they're having in front of their business,” Belton continued.
“We're actually able to make a closer connection than a lot of times you can do in a cruiser, just driving by,” said Velez. “On the bikes we're able to stop and talk to the people,” Velez continued.
And many downtown businesses say they’re making a difference.
Like Deborah Vahanian, Owner and Director of Glass Growers Gallery, “We really appreciate the fact that they come in, they introduce themselves to us, they get to know who we are, we get to know who they are. And I just think that's a great way to build community, and to build trust in the police force.”
This is the second year, for the bike patrols in downtown Erie.
They will be working, from May through October.