EMMAUS POLICE Officers now patrolling on new Harley Davidson cycle
After first being considered more than a decade ago by Emmaus Police Chief David Faust, conditions came together earlier this year for the Emmaus Police Department to launch a multi-purpose motorcycle patrol unit to join existing automobile and SUV patrols on the streets of Emmaus.
"The new police motorcycle gives the department another tool to use for our day-to-day law enforcement efforts," Faust said.
Police Sgt. Charles Palmer and Patrol Officer Jeremy Schilling have been selected to be the designated motorcycle patrol unit operators.
The Harley Davidson Road King cycle with a special police package of equipment was purchased earlier this year after its manufacture in Milwaukee, in place of a budgeted four-wheel patrol unit and will allow special-purpose use as well as regular patrol functions.
"We expect to use the motorcycle to assist in facilitating traffic issues, including funeral escorts, oversized loads, traffic enforcement, parade and community events," Faust said.
"Because of its size, the motorcycle is easier to conceal when officers are performing traffic enforcement," Faust said.
This is both an advantage and a disadvantage, Palmer said. "Motorists just don't seem to see us," Palmer said. "They do things they would not do when they see a regular patrol unit in the vicinity and they pay the price with a traffic citation.
"The disadvantage to not being 'seen' is that we have to be especially alert to driver mistakes that put us in jeopardy," Palmer said.
He has already had to use emergency avoidance tactics to escape from situations where motorists have turned into his lane because he was not seen on the smaller patrol vehicle.
Although Palmer has been a motorcycle operator since his teens, that has not really been an advantage in his patrol duties. "Motorcycle patrol work is entirely different than recreational cycling," Palmer said.
Palmer and Schilling underwent two weeks of intensive training beginning the Monday after Easter with instructors from the Bethlehem Police Department which has been using motorcycle patrol units for many years.
Special training involved pursuit tactics, maneuvering in close quarters, escort procedure, off-road use and other specialized tactical training.
"It was a tough two weeks," Schilling said, who had not ridden a cycle before his selection to be part of the patrol unit.
"It was physically demanding, and we had an awful lot to learn about using the cycles. It takes two hands to drive the manual shift transmission and brakes, but we also had radio units, lights, sirens, hand signals and other considerations that we had to take into account," Schilling said.
"Our instructor introduced a lot of stress into our training," Palmer said. "The training certainly wasn't a 'ride in the country.' Being a motorcycle officer demands a much higher level of defensive driving than that required for an enclosed vehicle."
Schilling said the intensive training was really useful in his introduction to motorcycle patrol duties. "I feel really, really prepared," Schilling said. "The training was really top-notch."
Faust also noted the motorcycle provides a budgetary advantage.
"Motorcycles can travel farther on less fuel, making them more budget friendly for a police department," Faust said. "And, the motorcycle cost less to purchase and maintain than the traditional police package vehicle," Faust added.
While Schilling and Palmer are the only department officers trained and certified at this time, Faust said he expects to train a third officer in the future.
"There will always be a need for the traditional patrol/cruiser-type vehicles," Faust said, "but the motorcycle unit adds another dimension of flexibility we've never had in the past."