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Police to use motorcycles for patrols in tight spaces

June 22, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • From left, Hagerstown Police Department Officers Andy Lewis, Mitch Filges, Chuck Johnson, Richard Wolfensberger and John Murray stand by the three new Suzuki 400 motorcycles that will be used by the department to patrol back alleys and other areas that are too small for police cars to maneuver.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Hagerstown Police Department officials say they hope the city’s recent purchase of three off-road motorcycles will help beef up patrols in back alleys and other areas that are too small for police cars to maneuver.

Capt. Mark Holtzman said the motorcycles will allow the officers to more effectively patrol alleys, railroad property and several city parks.

“It allows the officers to reach areas of the city that don’t get patrolled on a regular basis,” he said.

Holtzman said the police department used confiscated drug money to purchase three Suzuki 400s for about $6,000 each from Twigg Cycles on Edgewood Drive.

“It’s at no cost to the taxpayers,” Holtzman said. “We went through a bid process. Twigg’s was the lowest.”

Three experienced motorcycle riders on the police force — Mitch Filges, Chuck Johnson and Andy Lewis — were chosen to participate in this week’s training program, which focused on riding over rough terrain.

Sgt. John Murray, who oversees the motorcycle training, said the officers will train for the rest of this week, and a new class will start training at the beginning of next week.

“It’s slow going because we can only train three at a time,” Murray said. “What we’re shooting for is to have at least several officers be trained on each patrol shift.”

He said the officers used the motorcycles to make a drug arrest Monday in a wooded area between Fairgrounds and Pangborn parks.

“Two females were on a park bench smoking marijuana,” Murray said.

He said the officers didn’t see the women smoking marijuana, but they could smell it in the air.

“That’s something you normally can’t do in a police car,” Murray said.

Murray said the officers rode the motorcycles into a “hobo camp” near City Park on Wednesday to serve a criminal summons on a man and to keep tabs on a registered sex offender who the police department has been monitoring.

He said although the motorcycles are physically taxing to operate, riding them takes away some of the monotony of routine patrolling.

“It gives them a way to be proactive and enjoy what they’re doing,” Murray said.

Holtzman said the police department recently sent its motorcycle officers to train in Fairfax County, Va., where officers have been using the same types of motorcycles to patrol.

“We adopted their lesson plan,” Holtzman said. “It’s the nice thing about police work — everybody shares.”

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