Police Department Gets 4 New Milwaukee Powered Units
GREENSBORO — Bev and Ed Andrews told the police officer who came to their house that they had been in two accidents in about six months. The intersection at North Church Street and Tankersley Drive was dangerous, they said, and they were angry.
What are police going to do about it?
The couple went through the same fictional scenario with more than 10 officers — candidates for the department’s new Motor Unit.
The Greensboro Police Department is rolling out the motorcycle unit at 10:30 a.m. today in the governmental plaza downtown.
The couple’s feedback helped the department finalize decisions on who would join the five-member team.
“Each one of them talked to us, to discuss what could be done to work out the problems there,” Ed Andrews said. “That was our part in the thing.”
After going through the scenario with each candidate, the couple met with Greensboro police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen and discussed how the interaction went.
“Some had outstanding interactions,” Bev Andrews said. “One of them offered his card to us. As a citizen, we like to see something like that.”
The three new team members, officers Deon Carter, Matthew Leahey and Sean Patterson will join Officer Andy Reidell, who has briefly been the only motorcycle officer, and a sergeant who oversees the unit.
Since 1925 The Department Has Had a Motorcycle Division
The department started its first motorcycle unit in 1925 and by 1941 had five motorcycles.
In the ’60s, the unit had about a dozen motorcycles and officers, according to Capt. Jonathan Franks.
“It went all the way down to one,” Franks said. “As the motor officers got older and retired, (the department) left those spots vacant, or moved them to a vehicle patrol position.”
Meanwhile, patrol officers began being assigned to work on resolving violent crimes.
And as the department held neighborhood meetings and planned to shift to a policing model called neighborhood-oriented policing, officers learned about people’s concerns. Under neighborhood-oriented policing, the department has assigned officers to specific areas of the city, where they are to be visible and to engage people.
During community meetings, people most often told officers that their concerns had more to do with quality of life than the worst crimes.
“About 80 to 85 percent of the complaints we hear are about speeders — people going through residential neighborhoods where children are playing,” Franks said. “Like traffic complaints — people running stop signs are seen as an endangerment to kids.”
The perception when a patrol car is in the neighborhood is that the car is there just to conduct an investigation or respond to a serious crime, Franks said.
When motorcycles are in the neighborhood, the perception is that they are there to deal with traffic issues.
The department weighed whether to buy Victory or BMW motorcycles, but the Harley-Davidsons were superior, Franks said.
The department tried to order new motorcycles this summer, but by the time they got a proposal together Harley-Davidson had sold out its 2016 models.
Being Late Has It’s Advantages – Enter The Milwaukee 8
And whether it’s the rumble from their engines or their gleaming chrome, community members notice the motorcycles.
Greensboro police recently received four 2017 Harley-Davidson “Milwaukee Eight” Big Twin motorcycles. The department is one of the first in the nation to get the newly designed bikes, which are intended to have less vibration than previous models and cost $25,440 each.
The bikes weigh more than 900 pounds.
Greensboro’s motorcycles are outfitted with prominent decals, police lights, LED lights, sirens and even computers and printers.
The department even decided on retro-style uniforms and helmets for the officers.
“You see them and they are easily recognized as traffic officers,” Franks said. “No matter where they’re at — even if they’re not on a motorcycle — the uniform that they wear, you know that they are traffic cops.”
That’s by design.
Police want people to feel that the officers are approachable.
Already, when folks have seen them at an intersection, they approach the officers or wave, Lt. C.E. Williams said.
“You’re taking the barrier away,” Williams said. “When an officer is sitting in a car or in a Tahoe — even if you look at it as an artificial barrier — there’s still a barrier. People aren’t as likely to walk up and approach.”
There’s nothing between the public and an officer sitting on a motorcycle in the open air, he said.
The department is going to try to deploy the officers in residential neighborhoods in all weather, Franks said.
The motorcycles will be working school zones at the beginning of the day, he said. They will then transition over to working on residential complaints.
The city has an online site where people can report traffic concerns.
Officials hope the motorcycles will reduce traffic violations in the communities where they are deployed.
They are already getting public attention.
Bev and Ed Andrews took their 4-year-old grandson to a Tip-a-Cop event last week, where they found one of the new motor officers with his bike.
“We went there to contribute and eat,” Ed Andrews said. “One of the new officers recognized us and took us out to show us his motorcycle. Our grandson sat on it.”