Glen Carbon police will start a motorcycle squad
BY ELIZABETH DONALD - News-Democrat
GLEN CARBON -- One of the officers pulling over speeders in Glen Carbon may soon be riding a Harley.
Glen Carbon has approved its first motorcycle squad, consisting of two officers and a Harley-Davidson police motorcycle purchased for about $11,000.
But not everyone is in favor of the program. Board members Ron Slemer and Bob Buehler reiterated their opposition Tuesday by voting against buying the motorcycle. Both had voted no on the program at the previous meeting.
"I don't think it's a good expenditure during these difficult financial times," Slemer said. "We have a limited number of people who will be skilled in operating this vehicle... I didn't think it was feasible."
Sgt. James Jones has already undergone the 80 hours in training required to become a motorcycle officer. Another officer will need to go through the training as well, Jones said.
The purpose of the program, Jones said, is to step up traffic enforcement. He said motorcycle officers are more effective and versatile in troublesome traffic than squad cars. They are also less noticeable than squad cars, enabling them to catch unwary speeders.
"We're hoping to reduce traffic crashes and increase citations to get people to be more aware," Jones said.
But that's also one of Slemer's objections: the image of the village. "It makes it look like Glen Carbon will become a speed trap," Slemer said. "Traffic enforcement is important, but we have to have a balance in that... I don't want (speed trap) to be the image of Glen Carbon."
Jones said towns like Cahokia, Belleville and Pontoon Beach have a motorcycle squad, and the Illinois State Police has a large group on bikes. If people start noticing the motorcycle officers, he said, that can also help civilians riding motorcycles.
"If people become more aware of motorcycles, they'll be more likely to see them and reduce crashes," he said.
The police department should have the motorcycle in operation by the end of the month, Jones said.