Charles Town police bring back bike patrols

May 28, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town police officer Ward Sigler was on his first bicycle patrol for only 10 minutes when he saw how effective it can be.

"You can sneak around nice and quiet," Sigler said.

He had just left the station and had ridden quietly up on a drug dealer in the midst of a transaction.

"He took off running. He couldn't outrun a bike," Sigler said.

That was about four years ago, when Charles Town first started a bicycle patrol. After a while the program fell by the wayside, but the new police chief, Mike Aldridge, has reinstituted it.


Officers ride around in uniform shorts on mountain bikes as they patrol Charles Town.

Aldridge said he's received several calls from residents who said they like seeing the officers on the bikes.

The bikes make the officers more visible and allow them to cover more territory than on a regular foot patrol.

It also takes away the "invisible walls" that surround a police officer when he's in a cruiser, Aldridge said.

Residents are more likely to approach and talk to officers when they're on the bikes, he said.

"It's a totally different way to patrol," said Officer Joe Forman, 25, a two-year veteran.

People in the town "feel more comfortable with the guys on their bikes," Forman said. "They get to know we're actual human beings."

At night, the officers are able to see more activity because the bikes are quieter than cruisers, he said.

"It's like you're in stealth mode or something," Forman said.

"It's a good community policing tool and a good way to stay in shape," said Sigler, 28, an officer for four years.

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