Cops take to two wheels: Police department equipped with two motorcycles |

Cops take to two wheels: Police department equipped with two motorcycles

William Ferchland
Shannon Laney, riding a new BMW bike, is one of two officers assigned to the newly created motorcycle patrol for the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

A new motorcycle gang has arrived at South Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe police officers will be searching for speed demons and assorted highway and sidestreet lawbreakers with the help of two new BMW rt1200p motorcycles added to the force.

“They’re really great for doing traffic enforcement,” said Shannon Laney, a motorcycle officer. “One of the problems with (patrol) cars is we can’t get to violators as easily.”

Police Officer Mark Allen also rides a motorcycle.

While some might wonder why a police department in a mountain town deluged by snow in the winter would get two motorcycles, Laney said the brand new rides will be in use whenever the roads are clear.

“Basically it’s going to be up to Highway 50,” Laney said.

The department is the first in the nation to receive the models, Laney said. Paid for by Proposition 172 money, the motorcycles have already began paying dividends.

Laney said traffic citations average about five to eight per day in a patrol car. With the motorcycles, which can hide in tighter spots and are not as noticeable as a marked patrol car, the average number of traffic citations per day has risen to 10 to 15, Laney said, although many of the motorists are given warnings.

“We certainly noticed the difference,” said Leona Allen, communications coordinator for the department’s dispatch center.

With the arrival of a computer able to process and graph traffic complaints and accidents, Laney said the department will be able to zero in on problem areas.

“We get, on an ongoing basis, (complaints of) speeding vehicles, reckless vehicles and people driving inappropriately,” said Chief Terry Daniels.

The motorcycles aren’t the only new devices to make the department’s patrol division more efficient. Portable breathalyzers able to calculate a preliminary blood-alcohol level in suspected drunken drivers will be in each patrol car.

Also on they way to the department: Surveying tools on tripods that will be able to reconstruct an accident without the use of a tape measure and allow roadways to open for traffic sooner.

In addition, patrol cars are being equipped with computers that will allow officers to write reports, run background checks and other activities in their vehicles.

“Everything they can do at the station they can do in the vehicle,” Daniels said.

In addition, a radar gun using a laser capable of targeting a specific car, instead of the largest vehicle in a pack, will help the traffic team focus on speeders.

For whatever reason, Laney believes gridlock and traffic issues have gotten worse this summer. The motorcycles, he said, should help curb traffic-related problems.

“I would rather write a speeding ticket than write an accident report,” Laney said.

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