HAVERHILL — They move swiftly and quietly and, if you're involved in illegal activity, they spell trouble for you.
From a distance they look like your average person riding a bicycle. But as they get closer you realize they're wearing badges and are carrying guns. They're Haverhill police officers on bikes.
In an effort to keep a lid on street crime and other quality-of-life concerns, the city has instituted police foot and bike patrols this summer.
The officers are concentrating their efforts in the Acre and Mount Washington neighborhoods, which have experienced a rise in complaints from residents about drugs and other illegal activities.
Multi-speed mountain bikes give officers the ability to move quietly and quickly in an effort to apprehend people involved in criminal activities.
"They don't hear you coming," said officer Wayne Tracy, one of the bike patrol officers.
Detective Lt. Robert Pistone said members of his department's Street Crimes Unit are spending the majority of their time this summer patrolling the Acre and Mount Washington area, where he said there's a greater need for police presence.
"We were fortunate to be able to enroll them in training," Pistone said of the officers. "You can't just put them out there if they haven't been trained. So we were able to deploy them."
The officers recently attended special bike patrol training at the Andover Police Department that included techniques for negotiating obstacles and in general how to safely ride their bikes in the performance of their duties.
Pistone said his department institutes bike patrols every summer, but this year there are more officers on bikes.
"You may have seen as many as two in the past, but this year you'll see as many as six at a time, depending on the need," he said.