Budget woes and retirements are cutting down the number of officers on the streets across the nation, but in Toledo, Ohio, one arm of the law might be back on the roads soon. Officers riding Harleys, an American tradition in law enforcement currently under siege, could be plying their trade once more.
The Toledo City Council is plans to vote this week on a measure which would give their police department the go-ahead to buy nine motorcycles with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. If the council approves, Toledo will have a police motorcycle patrol once more. The motorcycle unit in that city was disbanded due to budget cuts back in 2004.
With a police department down 140 fewer officers from 2004, Toledo officials say the motorcycle unit will be put to use responding to crimes, policing traffic, and leading funeral and parade processions.
“Before they were used for traffic enforcement and that was it,” said Sgt. Joe Heffernan. “This time it’s going to be different. They’ll be taking calls for service…”
Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs added that it’s all about putting a larger police presence on the streets.
“Those motorcycles will help me address one of the major concerns I have from citizens, and that’s police visibility,” Diggs said.
So who’s behind the idea? Toledo Mayor Mike Bell.
Bell is a rider himself, and he says bikes are a tool for policing. According to Bell, motorcycle cops can get to locations a police car can’t, and he added that he likes the gas-saving benefits of using motorcycles for policing.
Not everyone is on board with the idea, however.
Councilman D. Michael Collins called the proposal a waste of money and said grant funds would be better spent on other police equipment like vans and security cameras.
Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Akron have motorcycle units on the streets right now.
Toledo finance committee chairman, George Sarantou, likes the idea.