HUNTERSVILLE – Police Chief Cleveland Spruill feels his department should turn to motorcycles to better enforce traffic laws and reduce automobile accidents.
Spruill wants to add three new 2015 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles into the department, which he believes increases safety for other motorists, as well as pedestrians.
“They are more effective,” Spruill told town commissioners July 7. “Bikes can access parks easier and have greater maneuverability. They are easy to hide and can be used in a covert manner.”
Commissioners granted Spruill permission to move forward with the proposal. He described it as part of a larger safety plan aimed at addressing traffic concerns.
Citing N.C. Department of Transportation stats, Spruill said major roadways, such as Sam Furr Road at North Cross Drive, have experienced an increase in traffic by 290 percent since 2002 and that traffic will rise 30 to 40 percent as the town’s population swells to 73,000 residents by 2020.
The cost to buy and equip the three motorcycles with additional accessories comes to $79,125. The department will use budget savings from salary and benefits funds and $7,575 that would have been used to replace a totaled police vehicle.
Spruill said bikes are more cost effective than cars and do not use as much gas. He assured commissioners that motorcycles will supplement cars, not replace them.
“We look at what areas have high areas of traffic and areas most difficult to get to by car,” Spruill said.
Commissioner Danny Phillips voted against the motorcycle program, citing safety concerns.
“We don’t have emergency lanes on our roads,” Phillips said.
“We have people not obeying the law and driving aggressively,” Spruill said. “A motorcycle can watch and take hold of a situation quicker.”
But when it comes to different weather environments, Phillips said, a car can be more visible than a bike.
Commissioner Rob Kidwell expressed concern that adding motorcycles means adding police officers, but Spruill said that isn’t the case.