The BMW motorcycle is the High Springs Police Department's latest tool in community policing and increasing visibility in the community. The motorcyle was a donation from the City of Alachua to the City of High Springs (Today photo/RAY CARSON)
HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs Police Department has added a new vehicle and one of its officers is now driving a BMW. But it’s not a fancy car for some secret undercover work, it's a motorcycle and it is meant for the community to see.
Officer Jason Taylor has been riding motorcycles for 12 years for his own uses, but the police department only has patrol cars for its officers. Taylor felt that adding a motorcycle might not only give the department versatility, but would also help with community relations and create more visibility for the department. Taylor says that community relations and interaction with the people they serve have always been an important aspect of being an officer. Visibility at events such as parades, funerals or schools and charity events show a different side of the police to the public. It gives the officers a chance to interact with people and show themselves as regular people rather than an authority figure. Stronger bonds between police officers and the community they serve improves trust and cooperation as they work together to keep the community safe. Officer Taylor felt that a motorcycle would gain more attention, especially with school age kids at events.
He began writing letters to local government, county and state officials, seeking the funds or a donation to purchase a motorcycle. He felt that this was very important tool for the police department. Having a motorcycle unit would also allow the High Springs department to claim membership in the Alachua County Motorgroup, which is comprised of motorcycle police units throughout the county.
As Officer Taylor continued to petition for funding, it was the City of Alachua that came up with a solution. They had a motorcycle that they were not using, and were willing to donate it to the City of High Springs at no cost the taxpayer. The motorcycle, a BMW 1150 RTP is a high quality powerful bike that is well suited to police work. But this bike has a different mission. Officer Taylor will be the rider and the purpose of the bike unit is geared toward getting it out in the community.
Despite his prior experience, Taylor will go through an 80 hour intense training course. The combination of rider and bike will be put through a battery of skill tests. “It is a very, very intense course,” he said. “Most of the training takes place on the bike, not in the classroom.”
Once training is completed, Taylor will be designated to work with community groups to help improve integrating the officers into the community they serve. He will spend much of his time doing this work, but will still respond to calls for assistance that come in, and still work in a patrol car. However, much of his time will be taking the motorcycle to the community and doing the work he loves best.
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