Cal State Fullerton’s University Police department is launching a trial motorcycle patrol program after purchasing a single 2005 Kawasaki K-1000 motorcycle from San Diego State for $750.
The motorcycle program was given serious consideration after research done in 2008 and 2009 showed the response time of an officer on a motorcycle was significantly faster than an officer in a standard police cruiser.
The research also concluded that a motorcycle would create less of a road hazard than a police cruiser and maintenance would be inexpensive.
The motorcycle would also get an estimated 40 miles per gallon, as compared to the standard 17-20 miles per gallon for the current CSUF police cruisers.
The 2009 research shows the estimated price of a police motorcycle is $27,000, though there is limited research to back up such a major investment.
University Police now has the opportunity to run what Capt. John Brockie calls a “pilot program,” where one officer tests out a motorcycle patrol to outline the positive attributes of having a motorcycle unit in police use.
The six-month trial run, which began last week, will determine if there is a permanent need for a new Honda motorcycle for the department.
“The idea of the motorcycle is going to increase response times, which is going to better serve the campus community,” said Brockie. “And improve overall traffic flow.”
The motorcycle program also aims to educate students about traffic safety to ensure pedestrians are safe from traffic collisions.
“The big part on this that I want to stress is the education piece,” said Brockie. “Through different ways we’ll provide (safety tips). There will be live presentations, information on our website, pamphlets … that is one of the areas where we need to concentrate on.”
Brockie said the motorcycle, while not having enough storage capacity for a shotgun or traffic cones, has the capacity to carry first-aid supplies in case of a minor injury.
The current motorcycle will not have an audio or video recording device since the department is trying to keep costs to a minimum, Brockie said.
However, Brockie said there is a possibility of outfitting the motorcycle with a recording device if the program is a success. The recording device would be either mounted to the bike itself or on the helmet of the officer for better coverage of a scene.
Shantanu Sultan, 25, an electrical engineering graduate student at CSUF, said there are many positive points to having a motorcycle officer patrolling.
But, Sultan is concerned because motorcycles create a great deal of noise pollution.
“They can go through small alleys where you cannot take a car and reach there faster,” said Sultan. “The cons are the noise. A motorbike would make a lot of noise.”
Mahfuz Alam, 24, an electrical engineering graduate student, agreed with Sultan’s concerns, but noted that motorcycles would create less of a road hazard compared to police cruisers, thereby lowering traffic congestion.
Cpl. Jesse Blanpied, who volunteered to be the inaugural member of the motorcycle program, said the motorcycle allows for better maneuverability, faster response time and better visibility. He has 30 years of experience riding a motorcycle since obtaining his permit in 1982.
Blanpied also said the police motorcycle will not be very loud compared to civilian motorcycles and the addition of the program could prove very useful for keeping the campus safe, both from crime and traffic collisions.
“It’s a new program so I get to help start it up and hopefully get us going in the right direction,” said Blanpied. “There’s been a need (for a motorcycle program) in my opinion for a while, especially with all the construction on campus so it’s much tighter now.”