Motorcycle is newest tool for borough police Vehicle well suited to traffic enforcement and crowd control

Staff Writer


Motorcycle is newest
tool for borough police
Vehicle well suited
to traffic enforcement
and crowd control

RED BANK — The roar of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, as it muscles its way through borough streets, is not an entirely unusual occurrence. But having that "hog" straddled by a borough police officer is certainly new.

The department recently acquired a 2001 Harley-Davidson Road King police package motorcycle, which officials say will greatly enhance the police department’s ability to serve the community.

The motorcycle is especially equipped for police work, outfitted with lights, radio, siren, traffic radar, and has been marked with the borough’s department insignia, according to Chief James Clayton.

The motorcycle also will allow for greater maneuverability in tighter areas and in heavy traffic, according to borough Councilman Thomas E. Hintelmann, who serves as the borough’s police commissioner.

"They’ll [the officers] really be able to get around on it," Hintelmann said.

The vehicle will be used for regular patrols, as well as for crowd control during special events, such as the recent July 3 fireworks display. It has been on the streets since June 15, and has responded to 132 calls. In addition, it has been used for traffic safety patrols because it is equipped with radar, the chief said.

The two officers assigned have been responsible for 15 arrests so far, and have issued 53 motor vehicle summons and five for violations of borough ordinances, Clayton said.

The motorcycle cost $13,000 and was purchased at Harley-Davidson of Long Branch, Broadway.

Motorcycles have been increasing in popularity for law enforcement, said Phil Greig, general manager of Harley-Davidson of Long Branch. Currently the Long Branch department has three bikes, Ocean Township has one, and West Long Branch, Freehold Township and Wall are looking to purchase motorcycles, he said.

There are distinct advantages for departments to have the vehicles, Greig said, including crowd control, much in the way departments would use horse-mounted officers.

"Obviously it moves much faster than a guy on foot, and it moves through tight spots easily," Greig explained. "And as a pursuit vehicle, it works well."

Also, the cost of motorcycle is considerably less than purchasing an additional patrol car, he said.

Harley-Davidson makes a Road King for civilian customers that goes for about $16,000 and has a high resale value, according to Greig.

Two borough officers, Patrolmen Joe Milko and Dennis Kerr, have completed a training course conducted by the Long Branch department. And, Clayton said, there are plans to send the officers to either Philadelphia or Washington, D.C., next spring for more extensive training.

The training the officers received included cone courses for riding control, emergency braking, quick lane change, rear-wheel skidding, and high-speed driving, according to Long Branch Patrolman Frank Passantino.

Passantino, who conducts the training, is a certified instructor from the Maryland State Police training program. And while strongly advocating the effectiveness of the vehicles for police use, he stresses safety for those operating them.

Passantino was injured last fall, while riding. He suffered four fractured ribs, contusions to his back and chest, a sprained wrist, and other injuries. But just four days after returning to the job, he was riding once again.

"They’re awesome," he said of the bikes. "It’s a nice tool, especially for traffic enforcement and special events."

Councilman Robert J. Bifani, a longtime motorcycle enthusiast, supports the department’s recent acquisition.

Bifani, who owns a Heritage Softail model Harley and rides for recreation, said he worked closely with Clayton and Hintelmann on the motorcycle.

He sees the bike as a boon to the department and the town.

Considering the density of the borough, Bifani said, much like the bicycle patrol, he sees the motorcycle "as an alternative to transport a police officer, who is trained in CPR and other areas of emergency management, onto the scene."

It also will benefit community relations, he said. There were plans to have the bike on view at last weekend’s West Side Community Group Picnic and to incorporate it into the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program.

"It breaks down that barrier between the public and the [police] car," Bifani said.