1 I d like to begin this article by thanking Lt. Manuel Romeral, SEU-OIC. This article would not have been possible without his assistance. This year marks the 103rd anniversary for the LAPD s world-renowned motorcycle program. As with the 100th anniversary in 2009, 2012 represents yet another significant milestone for the City of Los Angeles, the Department and all of the courageous men and women who for the last 103 years have dedicated themselves to protect and serve the citizens of L.A. Despite having the most dangerous assignment on the Department with the highest risk of injury, and regardless of whether it s a scorching hot day, freezing or raining during those special events and funerals, motor personnel ride their motors with pride and dedication. Other than the California Highway Patrol, no other law enforcement agency in the country or for that matter in the world has exemplified the professional image of a motor cop in television and movies than the LAPD s motor force. In fact, many law enforcement agencies throughout the world have intentionally modeled and fashioned their motor program to mirror the Department s motor program. With approximately 300 active motor personnel, the Department s motor force has the unique distinction of being the second largest in the United States.
2 Looking back in history, the success of the Department s early motor pioneers resulted in the 1909 formation of the Speed Squad, which represented the predecessor of today s professional, organized motorcycle program. Given their exceptional mobility, riding skills and tenacity, motor officers continue to consistently demonstrate their unique ability to quickly respond anywhere within the city, regardless of traffic conditions, emergency or significant event. Over this same time span, motor officers have proudly and safely escorted countless foreign dignitaries, heads of state, prominent world figures and U.S. presidents without incident. On a more humbling note, they ve also had the honor of escorting fallen police and fire comrades, including family members, during funeral processions. Over the past 103 years, the motor program has seen tremendous changes in training, technology and everyday enforcement responsibilities. Since 1909, Department motors have used a variety of motorcycle manufacturers, such as Indian, Thor, Excelsior- Henderson, Harley-Davidson, Moto Guzzi, Honda, Kawasaki and BMW. Currently, the motor fleet is comprised of Harley-Davidson Electra Glides and BMWs. In comparison to the technologically advanced motorcycles of today, the motorcycles deployed during the early years of the Department s motor program were truly prehistoric iron horses of
3 justice. As the Department continues to replace aging motorcycles, future purchases will focus on standardizing the fleet with BMW motorcycles, which have proven to be exceptionally durable, reliable and an outstanding law enforcement motorcycle for municipal motor officers. Motor officers in the 1950s and earlier years wore a soft cloth hat while riding their City motorcycles, which offered no protection whatsoever. Sadly and consequently, the vast majority of motor officer deaths occurred during those early years. Today s motor officers are provided with better training and equipped with safer riding equipment and enforcement tools. For example, in 2009, the Department began transitioning from the three-fourth open-face motorcycle helmet to the full-face modular motorcycle helmet. Since then, the full-face modular motorcycle helmet has saved several motor officers who have gone down. Even the traditional Department motorcycle uniform that consists of motor breeches and a uniform patrol shirt that provides minimal protection is
4 currently under review. As a result, the Department is field-testing a lightweight law enforcement Kevlar stretch motorcycle uniform specifically tailored to meet the demands of motor personnel in the 21st century that will provide abrasion resistance, impact and weather protection while offering greater visibility and rider comfort. Even the type of weapon systems deployed by motor personnel has seen dramatic changed in the past decades. The shotgun was first introduced to motors in the early 1990s. By the end of 2012, many motor officers will begin to deploy the patrol rifle, thus providing the Department with the ability to rapidly deploy an extremely effective weapon system anywhere in the city, regardless of traffic or road conditions. Since those early years, the motorcycle program has evolved beyond mere traffic enforcement. In addition traffic and DUI enforcement responsibilities, today s motor officers are trained and assigned to specialized crime suppression details throughout the city, such as Operation-Valley Bureau s Violent Crime Task Force and the former Office of Operations CREW Task Force. Other responsibilities include the highly
5 successful Habitual DUI Offender Task Forces, which works in partnership with the Los Angeles City Attorney s office to identify and target repeat drunk driving suspects who are in violation of their DUI probation conditions. The focus is to arrest them and incarcerate them for violation of their probation before they commit a new offense. From a community relations perspective, motor personnel are also engaged in working with the community to address community traffic issues and concerns. Similar to geographic area senior lead officers, motor personnel assigned to Community Traffic Safety Units at each traffic division are entrusted to address community traffic concerns through education, engineering and enforcement strategies and programs. Other motor officers assigned to the Specialized Enforcement Section at Emergency Operations Division are responsible for all citywide commercial enforcement, motorcycle safety field-testing and product evolutions, motor in-service training and the Basic Motorcycle School, which is designated by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training as a regional training program for allied agencies. There s no doubt that our highly trained and dedicated motor personnel with their rapid deployment ability as first responders have for the last 103 years provided the Department with a valuable resource to help reduce traffic collisions and crime to ultimately provide a safer city for all of its residents. To say I m proud to have earned my wheel and arrow patches and to have ridden for 12 years as an LAPD motor officer is an understatement. I can be reached at (661) or via at Thank you. For additional motor photos from past and present, go to LAPD.com/members/photoslideshow/event_photos.