PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence Police Department has received five new bicycles in a bid to bolster the capital city’s community policing initiative.

The bike patrol unit has been nonexistent for some time due to low staffing levels and a lack of funding, according to Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements.

“Years ago, we had bike patrols and foot patrols throughout the city’s nine districts,” Clements said. “There’s been a need for awhile to revamp our bike unit.”

Clements said three officers have been assigned to revive the bike patrol unit, thanks to a bump in staffing from the 70th class of graduates from the Providence Police Academy.

The return of the bike patrol unit was also made possible by the Providence City Council, which provided the department $8,000 in funding to purchase the new bicycles.

“This is great because at the end of the day, our officers are showing they’re here to serve and protect and become part of our community … part of making our city and our streets safer,” Providence City Council President John Igliozzi said.

Right now, the bike patrol unit will focus on downtown Providence, though Clements said it will eventually be utilized citywide alongside foot patrols, motorcycle patrols and the Mounted Command.

“These bikes will be utilized in all districts, depending on the need,” Clements said.

Officers Andre Elie and Alex Diaz have been assigned to the bike patrol unit.

Elie expects to ride up to 10 hours per shift.

“I think it will be good for accessibility, and we can respond to calls a lot more rapidly than if we were on foot,” Elie said.

“It’s just faster and easier for us [to get around],” Diaz added.

Clements said the bike patrol unit will consist of two shifts: a dayside shift from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a nightside shift of 3–11 p.m.

He hopes that, as time goes on, the department will be able to add more bicycles and officers to the bike patrol unit so there’s a presence in every district.

“It’s part of our playbook,” Clements said. “It’s part of our template on community-oriented policing within the districts.”

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Right now, Clements said the bike patrol unit has room for up to six officers.

“In years past, we had foot men in every district,” Clements said. “Right now, we have foot men downtown. So, the foot post can either walk a foot post or ride a bike. They can mix and match, depending on the weather and depending on the circumstance.”

The bicycles will also be utilized by the department’s family service clinicians.

“It really bolsters our presence in the community and the work we do every single day,” Clements said of the bike patrol unit.