by Anna C. Irwin, The Daily Times (Maryville, Tenn.)
Maryville, Tenn. Police Department is using motorcycles in traffic
enforcement for the first time in 23 years.
Motorcycles were regularly used by Maryville officers prior to Feb.
21, 1981, the day Officer John M. ``Mike'' Callahan II was killed
when his police motorcycle was struck from behind as he slowed to
turn off East Lamar Alexander Parkway (then New Walland Highway).
Callahan's motorcycle was destroyed in the accident, and a decision
was made that it would not be replaced immediately.
The delay, which was to have been temporary, stretched out more than 23 years.
Chief Tony Crisp said four new Harley-Davidson Road Kings were
purchased with money from the drug fund at no cost to the taxpayer.
Harley Davidson makes a line of motorcycles especially for law
enforcement use and each department outfits them for their own use.
The four motorcycles added to the Maryville Police Department's
traffic unit are equipped with radar so officers can monitor
neighborhoods and major thoroughfares to enforce the posted speed
Maryville Police Department initiated the traffic unit in September
of 2003 in response to the city's annual citizen survey which
indicated residents believe speeding is a problem throughout the
Officers in the traffic unit spend 24 hours a day dealing with
traffic-related issues and are trained in accident reconstruction.
Currently, they are targeting high-accident-rate areas, but they will
also work in neighborhoods that have an ongoing problem with
speeding. The motorcycle officers will be assisting other traffic
unit officers, especially during heavy traffic in the morning and
The advantages of using motorcycles as part of the traffic unit
include their size which allows easy maneuverability in crowded
areas. In certain situations, a motorcycle will be able ride around
heavy traffic to be reach the scene of an accident and begin first
aid, if needed, as well as help to clear traffic to allow access by
other emergency responders.
During crowded events, such as the Foothills Fall Festival, the
motorcycles will allow for quick movement from one point to another.
``Another huge benefit is the one-to-one contact with our residents,
which is a very important part of our community policing efforts.
People seem to feel that officers are more accessible to conversation
when they're on a motorcycle rather than in a vehicle,'' Crisp said.
The officers who will be manning the motorcycles are Sgt. Chris Tuck
and Officers Gary Caughron, Mike Braden and Ronnie Pryor. All four
have completed training in the use of police motorcycles and earned
certification in that area.
All four are veterans with the Maryville Police Department. In April,
Tuck marked his 11th anniversary as a Maryville officer and Caughron
had his ninth anniversary with the department. Braden has been a
Maryville officer since September 1995, and Pryor joined the
department in October 1989.
While the current Maryville motorcycle officers didn't know Callahan,
all were acquainted with Alcoa Police Officer Tim Hunt, who died
April 20, 2000, after his police motorcycle was involved in a
collision on Alcoa Highway.
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The newly certified motorcycle officers said their safety as well as
the safety of others is their primary goal.