Deputies on patrol may soon be straddling Harleys

LAKE GEORGE If you hear the deep rumble of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle pulling up beside you at a stoplight this summer, it might be a good idea to resist the urge for an impromptu street race. Although the motorcyclist might be dressed in leather and riding a hog festooned with chrome, it may be a law enforcement officer -- a sheriffs deputy on duty. The Warren County Sheriffs Department is seeking to launch a motorcycle patrol, starting with leasing two full-dress 2008 Harley-Davidson Road Kings, and training six officers so a two-wheeled patrol or two will be available on all shifts. The annual leasing and training costs are $35,070, and state grant reimbursement is anticipated for the sum. County supervisors recently authorized their STOP-DWI program director Amy Manning to go ahead with the plans, pending confirmation of the reimbursement. Manning said this week that state officials have shown enthusiasm for the plan. Motorcycle patrols, she said, are just whats needed in Lake George, where the two-wheeled machines can easily navigate through the routine traffic congestion and crowds that sometimes spill into the streets, particularly during festivals. During the public events like Americade, the fire chiefs convention and the Adirondack National Car Show, motorcycles can jockey around and get through the congestion while patrol cars might not, she said. Manning added that motorcycle patrols had proven their worth in Glens Falls, which launched a two-wheel unit last year -- with state reimbursement. She said that in some instances, police on motorcycles were able to blend in with their surroundings and make arrests of unsuspecting offenders. Other times, they stand out, like when they leading parades and in other formal escort roles. Its worked fabulously in Glens Falls, Manning said. The public seems to love them-- except of course the people who are committing crimes. Glens Falls Police Captain William Valenza, who helped launch the motorcycle patrol, confirmed Mannings viewpoints. He added that motorcycle patrols were also an effective way to apprehend motorists dodging in and out of traffic at high speeds on sport bikes, which he said is a growing problem. Valenza also said motorcycles were an effective community-outreach tool for the department. People love to come up to us and strike up a conversation about the motorcycles -- and its our policy to stop and talk. Valenza said the two-wheelers had also proven their worth for police in Colonie, Troy, Schenectady and Albany. County Sheriff Bud York said Wednesday the countys deputies were eager to get patrolling on the Harleys. Were absolutely enthusiastic about the prospects of a motorcycle unit, he said.

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