DENVER (CBS4) - It could be good news for speeders and traffic scofflaws — CBS4 has learned that the Denver Police Department has temporarily lost nearly all of its motorcycles that officers use for traffic enforcement.
“There are fewer motorcycles on the street right now,” said Lt. Matt Murray, confirming what the CBS4 Investigation learned.
According to multiple interviews, city contracts and other documents, the city’s lease for nearly all of its police motorcycles recently expired. For years Denver leased Harley- Davidson motorcycles from Grand Junction Harley Davidson. Another vendor was recently found that would cost the city about 50 percent less than the previous lease, according to Murray.
As of January all of the Harleys from Grand Junction Harley that were used by traffic operations officers and officers on the 16th Street Mall were off the streets and either returned to the Western Slope or were on their way back.
But the new deal with a Front Range motorcycle dealer — Freedom Harley — for 62 new motorcycles, wasn’t signed until Feb. 8, according to city contracting records. It will be an estimated 45 to 60 days before the new motorcycles are received, equipped with lights, radios, special paint and other equipment and put on the road.
“Because of the way these agreements work, it was not possible to have a seamless transition,” Murray said.
So traffic officers who normally buzz around on motorcycles enforcing speed limits and other violations are now behind the wheel of standard patrol cars. Several current and former traffic officers, who asked their names not be used for fear of reprisal, said they can’t hand out as many tickets using a car as a motorcycle. They said the motorcycles allow them to hide, position themselves on sidewalks, and generally move faster than in a patrol car. Several claimed they would not be as effective and productive handing out tickets in cars as they are on motorcycles.
“If it has an impact for a short period of time, we understand that may happen,” Murray said. “And we planned for that in the winter when we would have the least amount of impact possible.”
Murray pointed out that when the weather is extremely cold or snowy, traffic officers are in patrol cars anyway.
“Does it have an impact? We’ll find out,” the police lieutenant said.
Murray emphasized citizens should be pleased that the police department found a way to save money over the long haul.