The Police Department this week won approval to revive its long-dormant motorcycle patrols.
Four officers now assigned to squad cars are to be trained for the special units, which could be on the streets as soon as six months from now, Police Chief Elvin G. Miali said.
Patrols are to focus on Warner, Talbert and Ellis avenues and other streets where moving violations are frequent. The focus is traffic enforcement.
The City Council this week accepted a $79,600 state grant and pledged an additional $6,700 to fund the units for a 27-month trial.
Keeping in mind liability and workers' compensation issues, the council cautiously approved the program on a 4-1 vote.
Mayor John J. Collins dissented, saying he supports the motorcycles but wants a guarantee from the council that the program would be canceled if the city were required to pay $250,000 or more in liability claims for possible injuries.
Other members did not wish to set a fixed amount. "I just want to give the program a chance to succeed," Councilman Chuck Conlosh said.
The city is self-insured up to $275,000 and carries workers' compensation insurance of $2 million, City Manager Raymond H. Kromer said.
Safety is paramount for the new program. Motorcycle officers will work only during daytime hours, and high-speed pursuits are banned, officials said. Each officer assigned to the program will undergo a psychological evaluation and safety training.
City police stopped patrolling on motorcycles about 13 years ago after a few serious but not-fatal accidents, Miali said.