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Motorcycle to Join Police Vehicle Fleet

by Bobby Blair
September 19, 2018

Selectmen were requested Monday night by Police Chief Matt Stone for their approval on several capital requests per his department. A public radio work station which is nearing the end of its life cycle received the support of the board for $14,000. The replacement of a marked cruiser also got the thumbs up from the board, but the purchase of a motorcycle, the department's first had board members questioning Stone as to its use and need. A delay by putting the purchase of the cycle on the Annual Town Meeting in May caused concerns for Stone who said he couldn't schedule his officers cycle training until after the purchase of the two wheeler which would limit the use of the cycle which will only be used on a seasonal basis. Selectman John Cronin questioned the outright purchase of a motorcycle instead of a lease agreement since the motorcycle program is new to the department and wanted to evaluate the benefits the cycle would bring to the town.

Chief Stone countered that all the benefits may not be tangible such as the presence of the officer and cycle averting burglars or traffic scofflaws from committing a crime. Chairman Jay Marsden said I don't see a compelling need for it (a motorcycle). Chairman of the Rail Trail Robert Weidknecht voiced his support of the motorcycle as a way for the town to police the 6.7 miles of trails. Weidknecht said an ATV had been proposed for the trail but trail members said the tires of such a vehicle would tear up the stone dust paving. When a vote was taken, Ahronian & Cronin voted for the lease of a cycle and Marsden voted no.

DPW Sean Reese explained, in an earlier discussion of the selectmen's meeting, the planned construction in the Mudville neighborhood. Reese stated that water mains will be replaced in 2019 and gas lines shortly thereafter while the road is dug up. Reconstruction of new sidewalks which were built during WPA (Works Project Administration) days of the 1930's along with granite curbing and new street pavement is slated for 2020.

Reese requested capital improvements for the DPW of 141k for a new truck, replacing a 20 year old vehicle. $25,000 was requested for new meter reading machines which are now creating problems as their life cycle is no longer under guarantee. Reese found the sledding a little more difficult when Selectman Mark Ahronian floated the idea of Reese becoming the town's tree warden. The position of tree warden remains vacant. Reese would be taking on the job in addition to his current position of DPW Chief. Reese explained that he is currently certified by the state. Ahronian stated that the town would save money by hiring Reese on a stipend basis  and doing the work in-house instead of hiring contractors. Selectmen wanted more information as to cost savings before making any decisions. The position of tree warden was held for many years by Bill Henrich of Highland Street but remained vacant for at least 15 years until Ahronian accepted the position which he held for five years. Ahronian received no pay. The last person to hold the position was Ryan Fisher of the DPW who received several thousand dollars. Fisher held the position for less than a year according to Ahronian, and  left for a similar position at Harvard University in Cambridge.

 

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Comments (12)

The trail may be 6.7 miles long, but you can access it at Washington, Central, Exchange, Lowland, Summer, etc... Don't need a motorcycle.

- Mrs. M. | 9/21/18 9:50 AM

I support the use of a motorcycle to patrol the trail. The Trail Committee supports the idea as well. Abutters need to know that the trail is patrolled. Most abutters have likely had experiences where a rapid police response would have been helpful. Not to mention their presence as a deterrent. A bicycle is good but the trail is 6.7 miles and a quick response is not likely by bicycle.

- Tina Hein | 9/20/18 10:02 PM

I think it's ridiculous to suggest that Chief Stone, and every local Chief, are making an irrational decision wanting a motorcycle. Ashland, Medway, Franklin, and more towns, have them, and I see them often as I travel. This isn't frivolous, but is a tool that is popular for reasons that I'm certain have been fully researched. With all the whining and crying about traffic in town, you should be approving two motorcycles! Let Chief Stone do his job, and you all do yours.

- Mel | 9/20/18 7:21 PM

I agree with Jay Marsden as to no need for a motorcycle. They are weather-dependent, hard to see and actually dangerous compared to enclosed vehicles. I nearly got hit by one in Natick and the siren in so quiet I didn't hear it at all. Bad idea here.

- John | 9/20/18 10:16 AM

I don't think the motorcycle is for saving money, it's for expanding capabilities. Sure, it uses less fuel, but it will take up more resources, plus the officers will need to be trained to ride. Sure, they may have a license to operate a motorcycle, but there are many functions to execute on a police motorcycle that need to be taught and practiced. As for Chief Stone, let's not call the motorcycle or K9 his "toys". The fact that he was chosen as the K9 officer (and trained with Cesh) was great. But when he was chosen to be the next chief, that unfortunately meant that Cesh had to retire, because patrol dogs cannot be assigned new partners. Not sure how many officers will be trained on motorcycle patrol, but I doubt Chief Stone will be one of them. Although a dual sport might be appropriate for patrol work, you'd be amazed as to how far off road a capable police patrol officer can take a fully loaded Harley. They're not looked upon as the trailer queens that most owners treat them, but rather as a tool to be used to the limits. Look at YouTube for examples (search for Yonkers Police Motorcycle School) to see just what they can accomplish on a fully loaded Harley.

- Vince Packard | 9/20/18 7:45 AM

Have to agree with Bill....seems very irresponsible to even request. Clearly, funds could be better utilized elsewhere

- Stan Coffin | 9/19/18 10:24 PM

I would think that the cost to operate per mile is a lot less for a motorcycle than it would be for an SUV cruiser. The time an officer is on a motorcycle would reduce miles on more expensive vehicles already in service. Seems like a simple financial analysis would give a clear answer.

- Matt Gibbs | 9/19/18 8:39 PM

I don't see a need for a motorcycle in town unless it's dual purpose and able to get to people in distress on the trails. Like the day with the bees and a person having an allergic reaction. I had my scanner on and heard all the difficulty they had getting to the person. Also to comment on "Bill Emmons" post regarding "Cesh": I agree, don't know how many times i had my scanner on and heard HPD request a k-9 unit from another town or the state police and thinking "Don't we have a dog? why aren't they using they one we're paying for?". Should have been 24/7 oncall and not a request for mutal aid as often as it was.

- scott | 9/19/18 7:58 PM

A motorcycle on the police force is not a new thing to the town. Back in the 80s we had at least one motorcycle. A motorcycle can perform the same duties as a fully loaded police explorer for a fraction of the cost. I'm sure there are several officers who are qualified with a motorcycle license already.

- Scott Hunt | 9/19/18 12:09 PM

I agree with the dual sport, that's what I thought of right away. It's not as sexy as the Harley but you can buy 2 and have access to trails.

- J Brown | 9/19/18 9:37 AM

I have a real problem with this. For years we have been told by the police how many cars are needed to patrol the town. We gladly invested in the equipment they requested. A motorcycle has limited use. You can't use it 4 to 5 months of the year due to the weather. A patrol car is 24/7/365. I think this is frivolous spending.

- Mark Schultz | 9/19/18 8:13 AM

I would absolutely agree that that the police need a motorcycle, but only if that is a dual sport! With all the hike , woods and rail trail in town. Try getting 600+lb Harley out to an emergency, and once you get it there try leaving it on kick stand in dirt. Remember a few weeks ago someone needed epi pen in the woods and the hard time they had getting there.oh and you can buy fleet of them for price of one harley

- Joe kenneally | 9/19/18 7:05 AM

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