The History of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Motorcycle Unit
Although it is uncertain of the first law enforcement agency to use motorcycles, it has been determined the use of motorcycles in law enforcement began in the early 1900’s. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is among that group of pioneers.
Established sometime between 1927 and 1928, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office began patrolling the streets of Orange County using motorcycles, and was given the title of “Transportation Unit.”. A historic 1928 photo shows E. A. Taylor (deputy), mounted on a sheriff’s office Harley Davidson police motorcycle in front of the Orange County historic courthouse. A second historic photo, taken in 1928, shows the sheriff’s office “Transportation Unit “had a complement of six motorcycles. Use of the motorcycles allowed law enforcement the capability to move around traffic easily and help control crowds.
Time passed and by the 1960’s the Orange County Sherriff’s Office “Transportation Unit“ was renamed and was given the title “Motor Squad”. During the 1960’s and 1970’s the Orange County Sheriff’s Office “Motor Squad” continued efforts in traffic enforcement and stayed with the trend of using Harley Davidson motorcycles as a means of enforcement transportation.
Between the 1980’s and the 1990’s the Orange County Sheriff’s Office expanded in manpower and now had approximately 25 personnel assigned to the “Motor Squad”. Enforcement efforts also expanded with emphasis not only on traffic enforcement but DUI Enforcement. Development of new types of radar and laser equipment enhanced enforcement techniques. Additional motorcycle manufacturers began development of police motorcycles which allowed the motor squad to purchase Kawasaki Police KZ 1000’s, BMW’s, and a new model introduced by Harley Davidson, the FXRP.
During the mid 1990’s the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Motor Squad was renamed and given the designation, “Motor Unit” and continues to carry on that title today. Currently the Motor Unit uses the Harley Davidson Police Road King as the primary means of enforcement transportation and has expanded to 35 fulltime personnel and 20 additional employees serving as cross trainers within the unit. The breakdown of this manpower is 1 lieutenant, 5 sergeants, 5 corporals and 24 deputies. With traffic enforcement still being at the forefront of the motor unit, DUI enforcement, crime control saturation in targeted areas, school zone speed enforcement and dignitary escorts are among the multiple tasks handled by the motor unit. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office Motor Unit has a fleet of 63 Harley Davidson FLHP Road Kings. Most of the Road Kings are individually assigned to the full time and reserve motors officers. Several of the FLHPs are positioned at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations, (LEVO), training complex in Mt Dora, Florida.
Prior to being selected as a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Motor Unit, a 3 day, 16 hour introductory police motorcycle officer course is attended and upon completion, a motor officer candidate will proceed to the 80 hour Basic Police Motorcycle Rider, (BPMR), certification course, which must be successfully completed. After the basic certification is obtained, a new motor officer is teamed with a Motorcycle Training Officer (MTO) for a minimum of 40 hours and must complete the MTO program before riding alone.
The “Motor Unit” still uses the “winged wheel” as its symbol. In a departure from the more conventional biker ethos, law enforcement professionals who use motorcycles in the performance of their duties could be said to “Ride to Live, and Live to Keep Us Safe.” The winged wheel is a venerable emblem that represents that philosophy; it often is displayed as a patch sewn on an officer’s sleeve, or a metal pin worn above the name tag. The crest has become internationally recognized, albeit largely unofficially, as identifying police motorcycle units. The winged-wheel emblem usually is centered on an old-fashioned spoked wheel, with an arrow passing through the center line and a pair of wings lifting from the hub. The wing represents swiftness, the arrow precision and the wheel motion.”
In 2012 the Motor Unit issued 42,468 Uniform Traffic Citations to violators. This was 57.1% of the agency’s 74,254 citations. So far in 2013, the Motor Unit has issued 43,042 citations and are currently on track to be up 9% from last year.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has lost three deputies in the line of duty which were assigned to the Motor Unit. On January 23, 1975, Motor Deputy Samuel Parker succumbed to his injuries sustained during a motorcycle crash a month earlier. On May 12, 1990, Motor Deputy Thomas Ingram was on the scene of a traffic crash. While providing first aid to the driver of the original crash, a drunk driver drove through the accident scene striking him and killing him instantly. Deputy Michael Callin succumbed to injuries inflicted on August 2, 2006 when he was intentionally struck by the driver of a vehicle while conducting radar enforcement. These Motor Unit deputies made the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens of Orange County, Florida.
Information and Photos provided by the Orange County, FL Sheriff’s Office.