DoD Police Force Motorcycle Unit in Operation at the Pentagon
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2003 BMW of North America has donated six BMW R 1100 RT-P ("P" for police) authority motorcycles to the Defense Department's police force, which enables the Pentagon law enforcement agency to create its first motorcycle unit.
Credit for obtaining the motorcycles goes to Officers William Caouette and Chad Wyble.
Wyble said a few months ago, he and Caouette were tossing around the idea of having a motor unit for the Pentagon Police Department. "We thought that due to the amount of traffic we have, motors would be useful for responding to emergencies and incidents," Wyble said standing by his shiny BMW in the Pentagon's center courtyard.
BMW donated six motorcycles to DoD in mid-February, but the unit has only been in operation for about five weeks. "We started after we came back from training," said Wyble, a former member of the Texas National Guard who spent six years in the Navy.
The six riders attended an 80-hour course on basic police motorcycle skills at the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Academy in Raleigh, N.C. The training included low- speed riding and negotiating obstacles.
"We also did high-speed training for motorcades and pursuits," Wyble said. He pointed out that the North Carolina training academy is one of few that does high- speed operations -- anything over 40 miles per hour.
The Pentagon motorcycle cops are integrated within the operational branch of the force, Wyble explained. "Our primary role is patrolling the Pentagon reservation and other line properties we have in the Washington metropolitan area," he said.
"Our main focus at the Pentagon is police protection of the force and the DoD community. Our secondary mission is accomplished through the protection of those members through our traffic enforcement."
Wyble said the advantages of having policemen on motorcycles "is just the sheer mobility of a motorcycle that you wouldn't have in a car. For instance, on the Fourth of July, about 30 minutes before the fireworks started (on the National Mall across the Potomac River in Washington), everything was so congested that we were riding past patrol cars waving at them because they were stuck in traffic."
He noted that "we didn't have any problems getting through traffic and responding to calls on our motorcycles."
Wyble envisions the unit expanding up to about 12 members, which would allow full shifts and full coverage during rush hour.
"Right now, we're still getting our feet wet," he said. "We're trying to hammer out what the schedule is going to be, what's the best time to deploy, how many units. For instance, during the daytime, we have morning rush hour and that's when most of our motorcades and escorts occur. So we need that majority of motor officers on days. But we still need a minimum of motor officers on swing shift to cover the afternoon rush hour in case any motor vehicle crashes occur."
He said before getting the motorcycles, DoD police never had member of the DoD community or private citizen stop and ask him how he's doing or details about the police car. But it's different with motorcycles.
"A motorcycle has always been a good public relations tool," Wyble said. "Especially with the BMW, because they're new on the East Coast. People haven't seen many of them on the road. So when they see anything other than a Harley Davidson with a police officer mounted on it, they have a lot of questions."
The BMWs are high visibility, Wyble said. "When we drive by, especially in a motorcade, or in groups riding double breast, people turn their heads," he noted. "It's a great tool. When there's an emergency or incident and somebody needs to get there quickly, a motorcycle is the best answer."
Frank Stevens, BMW authority program manager in North America, said BMW police authority motorcycles are specifically built with a host of options to make it perfectly suited for police use. They're co-developed along with BMW's civil motorcycles so they can take advantage of as many production synergies as possible.
He noted that the BMWs come from the factory with a special high-energy cooling system and a fan drive so the motorcycle won't overheat in parades or slow-speed traffic.
"We're the only police manufacturer in the world that produces their motorcycle with antilock brakes," he noted, adding that the two-wheel vehicle only has to be serviced every 6,000 miles.
Stevens said internationally BMW is the largest seller of motorcycles for law enforcement use. More than 80,000 BMWs are used in more than 150 countries. In the United States, more than 275 law enforcement agencies across the country are using BMW authority motorcycles.
"BMWs are used by the largest police motor agencies in the U.S.," Stevens noted. "As an example, the California Highway Patrol has over 600 motorcycles in operations. The Los Angeles police and sheriff's department just started buying BMWs."