Police are patrolling downtown Wilmington in a new way.
"We can sneak up on people. They don't hear us coming. At the same time, we're visible to the good people."
Police Lt. George Perkins is heading up downtown's new bicycle unit. The program started in January with just Perkins patrolling.
Now, it's expanded to four members.
Perkins said the unit is more visible and more approachable than police in patrol cars.
Perkins also said the unit is already seeing results.
He said the new patrols are addressing downtown's panhandling problem.
"We're starting to get a reputation among the homeless and we're getting comments that we're not seeing quite as many and they're moving on," Perkins said. "It's part of a new strategy to get them moving on."
Business owners agree the patrols are working. Howard Brown owns Candles Etc. on Market Street.
"We have seen a tremendous decrease in panhandlers and I think it is totally in response to the police on bikes," he said. "It makes you feel much more secure."
Police would like to expand the unit. But right now, the unit only has four usable bikes and they're all several years old.
With a tight budget, the unit is looking at grants they can apply for to buy more bikes and equipment.
Copyright 2011 WECT. All rights reserved.