Police motorcycles will be patrolling the city of Richmond Hill by mid-July, according to Richmond Hill Police Chief Billy Reynolds.
Two of the bikes are arriving this week and two more are coming to the city in August.
"The bikes are not meant for traffic enforcement although they could be used for that," Reynolds said. "They’re intended for patrol."
Reynolds said one of the biggest reasons he is bringing in the motorcycles is to conserve fuel – the bikes get about 65 miles to the gallon.
He said the bikes will also allow officers to patrol and/or pursue individuals along trails and other areas that are too narrow for patrol cars.
"Right now, the only way to do that is on foot or by bicycle. The motorcycles will be more efficient because they can do so at a faster pace with less fatigue. They can get up to 70-80 miles per hour," he said. "Another benefit is that I encourage my officers to interact with the public, and this will widen the opportunity for that."
The ones arriving this week are Johnny Pag brand cycles. Reynolds said the imported Johnny Pag bikes cost $4,000 and come fully equipped, "which is an incredible deal. The only thing we’ll have to add is the radio. Chatham County, which uses nine Johnny Pag bikes, employs portable radios and we’ll be doing the same."
Later this summer, two Harley Davidson brand cycles will arrive. Reynolds said the Electra Glide Harley models will be leased for $3,600 a year and the department can opt out after the year if they decide not to continue using them. He said they will each cost around $2,000 to equip.
The Johnny Pag riders will add just a helmet to the officers’ regular uniform while the Harleys will come with a new customized uniform.
Reynolds said seven officers signed up for the Harleys, but he had to narrow it down to two. In the end, he designated the Harleys to Officer Brian Martin and Star Cpl. Steve Potts. Reynolds said Martin is the most experienced motorcyclist on the force while Potts has seniority.
Reynolds said the Johnny Pags will be available to the remaining officers because they will not be specifically designated to one officer.
Reynolds requires only that interested officers have a motorcycle license and undergo a training course in Forsyth. He said about half the force currently possess motorcycle licenses.
Martin and Potts are slated to attend a local six-hour training course in October to orient them on the use of the police Harleys.
Reynolds said the courses are different because there is a big difference in the bikes. The Johnny Pags weigh 1,000 pounds versus the 3,000 pound Harleys.