With winter’s icy grip softening, the city’s motorcycle cops are once again out riding. Speeders will not be pleased.

Cold, snowy weather is an obvious deterrent to working on a motorcycle, and this season has dealt a series of challenges to the 28 Colorado Springs officers who use the nimble vehicles while looking for traffic violations. In an average year, weather forces motorcycle officers to use patrol cars or work on inside tasks about 21 times, according to Sgt. Philip LeBeau, who leads the six-officer team assigned to the northeast part of the city.

By the end of last week, weather conditions had been unsuitable for motorcycles on about 20 days his unit was assigned to work since Jan. 1, LeBeau said.

Officer Nathan Jorstad, who joined the motor unit about a year ago, summarized the feeling among officers. “It’s been a brutal winter,” Jorstad said.

Motorcycles offer several advantages over cars for traffic enforcement, said Sgt. Steve Weber, the motor unit supervisor in Sand Creek, which covers the southeast part of the city. Officers can wait on medians or in tight spaces as they look for speeders or people running red lights, he explained, and they can maneuver more easily through traffic to catch those they spot.

Still, Weber said, officers working from cars in the Sand Creek motor unit wrote 749 violations in the first half of January. For much of the second half, when temperatures were cold and many roads icy, motorcycle officers from across the city were reassigned to work security at the Castle West Apartments complex, which was destroyed in an arson fire Jan. 16.

LeBeau called the reassignment an “effective use of resources” given that it kept regular patrol officers free during a time when snow and ice helped slow down drivers.

When roads are clear and temperatures climb at least into the 40s, LeBeau said, motorcycle officers are generally out trying to slow traffic near intersections where the city receives the most reports of crashes.

Jorstad said he and other motor officers are eager to get back out on their bikes. “We’re all looking forward to spring, I can tell you that,” he said.

Source: www.gazette.com

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