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San Fernando Police Revive Motorcycle Unit

June 03, 2003|Michael Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

Speeders in San Fernando, beware. The bikers are back.

After an absence of 47 years, the motorcycle unit of the San Fernando Police Department has been reinstated with one main objective: to slow down motorists.

"When I took over as chief, the citizens told me the biggest issues were traffic and safety concerns such as speeding and cutting in and out," said Chief Anthony Alba, adding that one reason motorists speed in the city is that it's surrounded by three freeways. "People are speeding to and from freeways. So I took action and brought the unit back."

The unit begins with two Kawasaki bikes, bought with a state Office of Traffic Safety grant and donations from local businesses. Alba plans to add two more later this year.

The original motorcycle unit was disbanded around 1956 in favor of patrol cars. But, Alba said: "The motorcycles are more maneuverable in traffic than the cars. The other good thing about them is they are highly visible, and when people see them, they slow down."

Three officers are certified to ride the cycles on patrol in the 2.4-square-mile city, San Fernando Police Officer A. Flores said.

The city has a population of 23,000, with a police force of 39 sworn officers and 25 civilians.

"But San Fernando has many businesses, including a county court building," Flores said. "During the day, the population almost quadruples, and pedestrian and vehicle traffic rises dramatically."

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