By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Expanding its traffic division and enhancing its relationship with the community are two goals the Bristol Police Department aimed to accomplish by forming a motorcycle unit.
During a press conference held last Tuesday, officers, along with Mayor Ken Cockayne, Police Chief Tom Grimaldi, Traffic Commander Lieutenant Edward Spyros, and Press Information Officer Lieutenant Richard Guerrera, all gathered outside the department to celebrate the launching of the motorcycle unit.
Early in July, the Bristol police activated the new unit, something the city of Bristol has not seen in over 20 years, said Grimaldi. The motorcycle unit will be operated out of the department’s traffic division under Spyros.
Grimaldi said the motorcycle patrols will be used in addition to the department’s regular patrols.
“Public safety is paramount,” said Grimaldi, adding how highly visible the motorcycles are.
The motorcycle unit includes two Harley Davidson bikes, which are equipped with a computer and a ticket printer, along with sirens. To date, four officers are assigned to motorcycles. The purchase of the motorcycles did not affect taxpayers, as funding came through the Asset Forfeiture Program.
During the press conference, two officers presented a live demonstration of the bikes on North Main Street.
“We want to get these bikes on the road as often as possible,” said Grimaldi.
Cockayne said he has received a lot of positive feedback on the motorcycles, which serve as a great resource for police officers in the community.
“Our police department has come a long way,” said Cockayne. “This is just one example.”
In the early 1900s, motorized transportation in policing evolved quickly, said Spyros. Although transportation included horseback and buggy patrols during that era, said Spyros, modern police agencies started to capitalize on motorized vehicles around the same time.
Spryos said motorcycle patrols serve as a popular asset to many police agencies.
“They remain a long tradition…an American icon,” said Spyros. “The motorcycle unit is a relevant part of any modern law enforcement agency.”
Besides motor vehicle enforcement, escorts, parades and crash investigations, Spyros added that the biggest benefit of having a motorcycle unit is a connection to people of all ages in the community.
“Citizens feel a certain comfort level when they approach a motor officer,” said Spyros, adding that the motorcycle patrols will enhance the police department’s current foot and bicycle patrols downtown. “They positively respond to the visibility that a motorcycle brings to their community.”
About nearly two years ago, Grimaldi had a vision of increasing the traffic division. Looking at the way it operated, the department was able to reallocate its manpower and civilianized some staff positions. After that was accomplished, the department started to focus on launching the motorcycle unit.
Looking ahead, Grimaldi said he would like to expand the motorcycle unit.
“We’re still in the early stages, so we definitely want to see how this goes,” said Grimaldi. “So far the reaction from the public has been phenomenal. The officers on the bikes have been very proactive.”
By LISA CAPOBIANCO