Huntsville Police bike unit hard at work at WhistleStop

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Riding through Whistlestop, you'll find a trained group of officers ready for action.

The Huntsville Police Bike Unit is hard at work there, creating a mobile HPD presence.

"They can respond quickly to incidents, they can move around the crowd easier than other officers can in vehicles," said Sgt. Kevin Matthews, who heads up the unit.

He has eight officers working each night at WhistleStop, looking for security risks from car break-ins to fights. He said WhistleStop is usually very tame, and a lot of fun. He assured us it's a safe event, especially because HPD and the Madison County Sheriff's Office work there alongside HEMSI and other first responders and private security to monitor the event.

HPD's bike unit will send two members to New Mexico to work with the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association later this month, where they'll become certified instructors. They can then train the rest of the squad, certifying new members.

Sgt. Matthews said the bike unit recently got new uniforms, and this is their first summer season to wear them. The newer blue ones are more reflective than the old yellow ones, he said.

Bike unit members will also have body cameras, something that's going department-wide already. Officers who ride in cruisers have cameras and audio in the vehicles, and because of the body cameras there will be a camera present on the bikes, too.

The unit is also riding on new gear.

"In the last year, we've upgraded all our mountain bikes," said Matthews. "They all have new lighting systems on them, so they're very visible. The officers like them, they're really good mountain bikes. They're going to last a long time."

He asks you to be careful while you're enjoying big events downtown this season, and also to watch out for the bike officers. It's their job to keep you safe, but it helps if you're aware of them, too.

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