The Idaho Falls Police Department has launched a pilot program for motorcycle officers.
Officers Preston Littlewood and Jason Hendrian, who are part of the traffic unit, have swapped their patrol vehicles for motorcycles, a city news release said.
With thousands of vehicles traveling the city’s roads, especially in the warmer summer months, increased traffic enforcement is needed to curb speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving and address other safety concerns, the release said. Summer also is a peak season for traffic complaints made to police dispatch.
The city recently reintroduced a Traffic Unit, made up of a group of officers whose primary responsibility is traffic enforcement. “While all officers can and will enforce traffic laws as they see violations, having this Traffic Unit in place gives other Patrol officers more time to focus on calls for service and other duties,” the release said.
Cities of similar size that deploy motorcycle officers have reported that motorcycle officers can make a difference on traffic enforcement efforts. The pilot program will help IFPD to determine if such an effort will work well here.
Police motorcycles may be harder for a person committing a traffic violation to spot and they also can more easily navigate through congested and high traffic areas.
The department’s motorcycles are 2006 and 2008 Honda ST 1300s, which are special police package motorcycles, and were previously used by another police agency. Each was outfitted with decals and logos that clearly identify them as Idaho Falls Police Department vehicles, as well as equipment. Each bike has lights and sirens, a laptop for the officer to look up information and submit reports, and even a printer for tickets and accident reports typically available from an officer in a patrol car, the release said.
In order to become motorcycle officers, each officer completed an intensive two week long Idaho POST Motor Officer School. The officers have each been members of the Patrol Bureau and Traffic Unit previously in standard patrol vehicles.
Officers began testing the motorcycles in late May and June as weather allowed. Community members may have already seen the motorcycles making traffic stops, responding to accidents, and at the Independence Day Parade. Officers have now fully up-fitted each bike and are on duty during periods of the day and week with high traffic throughout the city.