New motorcycle unit kicks into gear
Harley-Davidson will supply new replacement motorcycles each year.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown Police Department traffic unit is in Hog heaven.
Lt. Mark Milstead and Patrolmen John Prest, Dave Santangelo and Morris Lee are now riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, affectionately known as Hogs. Hog attire -- pants, gloves, rain gear, helmet, knee-high leather boots and cool sunglasses -- cost the officers about $1,000 if they bought everything.
Harley-Davidson of Youngstown, 4478 Boardman-Canfield Road in Canfield, has leased five Standard Dresser, better known as Electra Glide, bikes to the city for $1 each per year. Business owner Tom Wronkovich said the bikes are each worth roughly $19,000.
Wronkovich spoke Thursday outside his store at the official kickoff of the YPD motorcycle unit. He called the lease arrangement a "win-win" situation.
Wronkovich said the gesture is a way to give back to the community and give Harley-Davidson exposure. At the end of each one-year lease, he will take the used bikes and lease five new ones to the city.
Harley-Davidson has a similar arrangement with the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department, which has 12 motorcycles.
Outfitting the white and blue-trimmed motorcycles with YPD insignias and gear, such as sirens and lights, cost about $1,500 for each, Milstead said. The equipment can be transferred each time the department receives a new bike. He said it will cost the city about $600 per year to maintain and operate each motorcycle.
Aside from traffic unit officers, Lt. Robin Lees, Detective Sgt. Charles Guzzy and Patrolmen Terry Russo, Joe Moran, Assad Chaibi and Patrick Mulligan have taken the required 48-hour motorcycle training course. Officers were either given a special duty assignment to take the training during their regular shifts or trained on an overtime basis, with the idea they could take days off a later date, Milstead said.
Sheriff's Sgt. Gary Wollet, the trainer, said all the officers, some of whom had never been on a motorcycle, did very well. Training was held at the Canfield Fairgrounds and Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
Wollet said the officers will receive certificates from Northwestern University traffic safety institute, which designed the training course.
Police motorcycles, with a top speed of about 120 mph, will be used for traffic control, speed enforcement and special events, such as those planned for the soon-to-open Convocation Center downtown. Wollet said the bikes won't be used for pursuits.
Lees said YPD hasn't used motorcycles since the mid-1960s.
Milstead wants the motoring public to become accustomed to the idea of police on motorcycles and not always expect to see cruisers engaged in speed enforcement.
He said the bikes will be on the roads as long as weather permits.
After Thursday's press conference at Harley-Davidson, Prest positioned his motorcycle and hand-held laser at the intersection of Dogwood Drive and Bears Den Road on the West Side. The speed limit on Bears Den is 35 mph.
Along came a red Ford Probe, traveling north on Bears Den. Prest aimed his laser at the car and clocked it going 47 mph.
The driver, a 39-year-old Boardman man, received a ticket. Prest quoted the man as saying that 47 mph was not too fast for the roadway.