WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Wilmington Police Department is adding more bike officers to the streets and using new ways to get to hard to get places.
Bikes are one of the many ways Wilmington Police respond to a scene or meet with people in the community. The newest version of that are electric bikes
WWAY was given the chance to hop on these e-bikes with Police Chief Donny Williams and Officer Benjamin Jacobs. It is certainly something that takes some getting use to if you haven’t used one before.
The e-bikes were obtained from a grant from the New Hanover County ABC Board. They currently have 5 e-bikes and will receive 5 more in the future.
“I been on the downtown unit since 2016 and I’ve ridden the traditional when we first got them. That was fun to me, I was kind of hesitant about getting on e-bikes moving into the future, but once I got onto this bike I didn’t want to come off,” said Officer Benjamin Jacobs. Jacobs is also one of the lead mechanics and instructors for the bike program.
The e-bike program started about a year ago and they are similar to a traditional mountain bike. The difference is they are battery powered and can reach speeds of up to 28mph. They are also equipped with WPD lights and graphics, making it easier to respond when needed. It is something Chief Williams has seen first hand.
“There have been a few instances where I have been out on the bicycle myself and I was able to beat our patrol cars to an actual call for service where assistance was requested,” said Chief Williams.
When on the roads, safety is key. Officer Jacobs says using hand signals and being aware of your surroundings is vital for anyone riding an e-bike.
“Understand the rules of the road first and foremost. Also hand signals, use hand signals and if you’re riding with someone use communication. You want to be visible, have retro-reflective gearing on or have something bright on. Like yellow, highlighter or a white shirt on,” said Jacobs.
Chief Williams believes this program is something that can continue to be beneficial.
“My vision is to expand the program. Right now it’s mainly for downtown and special events. But in doing some of the testing, I’m convinced we can see officers on bikes as a daily patrol” said Chief Williams.