Hamden police are hitting the street with a walking beat.
The department started the pilot program last month and for the first time in 40 years two Hamden officers are out on foot patrol.
Five days per week, Hamden officers Christopher Sheppard and Christina Giori pound the pavement, offering a friendly wave or even handing out a high five.
They are focusing on neighborhood off of Dixwell Avenue that has had issues with violence and drugs in the past.
"I find it nice. I think it’s good, talking to people,” said Gureline Jean of Hamden.
"They know that there is someone out there if they need anything, see anything, want us to check anything out,” said Officer Christina Giori.
According to Hamden’s police chief and mayor, the walking beat is a page from the town’s past, something the department hasn’t done since the 1970s.
"I'm not only learning the area, but also the people themselves and finding out what their needs are in the community,” said Officer Christopher Shepard.
While chatting with neighbors and stopping in businesses, the beat focuses on the Highwood West section of town, covering Arch Street to Fourth Street on Dixwell Avenue, and heading west to Fairview Street.
"It’s a neighborhood that has had some violence and it’s also had quality of life crimes as well and we know those affect how people feel about their neighborhood and the foot patrols are a very visual way to see that the police are there,” said Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra.
Since it is just a pilot program, the plan is to keep the beat through the end of the month and then review it.
It could ultimately be used for certain shifts, certain areas, but based on the initial reviews, the chief said it is likely the department will bring it back and even expand it next summer.
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