The History of the Harrisonburg Police Department Motorcycle Unit
Harleys Return to Harrisonburg, VA
Submitted by Greg Deeds
The Harrisonburg Police Department received its first Harley-Davidson Panhead Motorcycle in 1950 to assist in performing escorts, parking meter enforcement and to catch speeders. In 1960, after 10 years of service, the city manager at the time made the decision to discontinue its use for law enforcement duties. – reported former Harrisonburg Police Chief Julius F. Ritchie (1947-1974).In fall of 1996, Harrisonburg Police Chief Col. D.G. Harper reinstated the motorcycle patrol duties with the purchase of two 1996 Kawasaki KZ-1000 P-15s; two full time traffic officers were selected to answer increasing traffic complaints from the residents of the city of Harrisonburg.In fall of 2002, the police department budgeted to replace the current Kawasakis with two Harley-Davidson 2003 FHPHI Electric Glide Law Enforcement Motorcycles. Harrisonburg Police followed the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office in its choice of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. County motor officers have experienced little or no mechanical problems with their H-D Police Bikes since the Sheriff’s Office started its Motor Unit in 2001. Patrolling by motorcycle has offered an invaluable tool for traffic enforcement, and performing escorts and public relation events for the city police and the County Sheriff’s Office. Both departments’ motor units often assist one another. Harrisonburg Police’s current FLHTPI Electra Glide Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles were purchased on Virginia state bid from East Coast Harley-Davidson Quantico, VA, in November 2003. With Harrisonburg’s growing population along with increasing traffic complaints, Harrisonburg added its third Harley-Davidson from Shenandoah Valley Harley-Davidson located in Staunton, VA. Consequently, Harrisonburg Police’s first motor officer, Patrolman Harry L. Phillippy Jr. (1949-1973), seen in attached photos, was great uncle of present Motor Officer Greg Deeds. There has been a lot of speculation of what happened to Harrisonburg Police’s first 1950 Harley-Davidson. Harrisonburg Planning Commission Member George Homan found the original Harley-Davidson motorcycle on the Internet in 2003. It now resides at the Cleveland Motorcycle Company in Mentor, OH in the private collection of its owner.
Information and Photos provided by the Harrisonburg, VA Police Department.