Masters Thesis

Evaluating the cost and benefit of police motorcycles: the Bakersfield Police Department

Law enforcement agencies across America utilize police motorcycles as a tool to improve traffic safety and quickly respond to calls for service. Motorcycles have proven to be very effective in enforcing traffic laws by providing officers with a higher vantage point, allowing easy maneuverability through traffic congestion, and allowing officers to be less noticeable then police cars. With all of these positive attributes, there are also several negative ones. Law enforcement is an inherently dangerous job. Officers riding motorcycles are at an even higher risk for injury. Although effective, they have proven to be costly because of the frequency of injuries and deaths to officers caused by accidents. Statistically, traffic accidents are responsible for a significant portion of law enforcement deaths as compared to felonious assaults. The majority of law enforcement officers who ride police motorcycles have had at least one accident in their career resulting in an injury. The majority of these injuries are orthopedic in nature costing tax payers a significant amount of money. Additionally there are other costs such as work time lost, employee backfill, loss of training invested into an employee, physical therapy, and the potential for early retirements and deaths. The purpose of this study was to examine the costs to the City of Bakersfield due to police motorcycle accidents from 2007-2014. The study compared the costs to the number of citations issued and accidents investigated in the same time frame. The data was then compared to the number of citations issued and accidents investigated during time frames when the number of police motorcycles was significantly reduced. The study attempted to identify if increasing the complement of police motorcycles would have benefited the City of Bakersfield in the way of decreased accidents and safer driving conditions. The study found that police motorcycles were much more effective in reducing traffic accidents, issuing citations and increasing roadway safety. The production levels of police motorcycles versus standard police cars were much greater. The study also found the risk and liability was significant and very costly. The study made several recommendations to the Bakersfield Police Department, which included a program mix of cars and motorcycles. The study recommended utilizing motorcycles at peak times and in targeted locations. This data could be derived from accident statistics collected daily by the police department. The study also recommended that further research should be conducted into the use of cars specifically outfitted for traffic enforcement.

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