Police Chief Elvin G. Miali urged the City Council on Tuesday to consider reinstating a motorcycle program.
Fountain Valley police stopped using motorcycles in 1982 because of liability risks and officer-safety concerns. Only Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos and La Palma do not have motorcycle patrols in Orange County, Miali said.
The Police Department has been awarded a grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety to pay for four motorcycles, officer training and related equipment. The council will decide in the coming weeks whether to endorse the motorcycle program and accept the grant money. The amount will be determined later.
Council members said they were concerned about ongoing program costs, liability risks and officer safety.
Motorcycle officers can make law enforcement strategies more flexible, Miali said. "We can place a motor on a sidewalk or bike path, which are easier places for enforcement," he said.
He also said that training and supervision are the keys to reducing officer injuries and liability exposure for the city. There were three serious injury accidents involving motorcycle officers in the previous program because of inadequate training and discipline, Miali said.
Selected officers from the department's traffic bureau would undergo 180 hours of training, including 80 hours at a motor academy before they go on duty on a motorcycle, Miali said. In addition, there would be training on a monthly basis and officer evaluations to monitor their performance.
Sgt. Kevin McKeown said that motorcycles have a higher visibility than patrol cars for traffic enforcement and can respond more quickly to apprehend traffic violators and respond to accident calls, especially in heavy traffic since a motorcycle can be more easily maneuvered through congestion.