Bexley police have a new crime-fighting tool at their disposal -- an electric motorcycle that enables officers to patrol streets and alleys without alerting suspects to their presence.

Bexley police have a new crime-fighting tool at their disposal -- an electric motorcycle that enables officers to patrol streets and alleys without alerting suspects to their presence.

The Bexley Police Department acquired the ultra-quiet Zero brand motorcycle this summer with private funds. The $17,052 purchase was made possible by a $9,552 grant from the Bexley Community Foundation and a $7,500 grant from the Whitehall Bexley Rotary Foundation.

The motorcycle is rare among police departments in central Ohio, according to Sgt. Ronald Kenefick.

"The motorcycle is all electric and the only noise that it makes is a little bit of a fan that is generated on the electric motor to help it cool," he said. "There's also a switch on it so it can shut off all the lights. If we're patrolling an alley or city park, we can use it with minimal noise. We can roll up on individuals who may be prowling or drinking in the park."

The city of Bexley began considering acquiring the motorcycle a couple of years ago when police officers presented the idea to the city administration, pointing out how it could be used to enhance patrol efforts, Mayor Ben Kessler said.

"We had a couple sergeants who were really gung ho on pursuing it," Kessler said during Bexley City Council's Nov. 8 meeting. "At the time, we basically said, 'If you can find somebody to fund it, then we'll look at it.' "

In addition to routine patrols, police Chief Larry Rinehart said officers will use the motorcycle to help maintain order and direct traffic during special events, such as President Barack Obama's Nov. 1 visit to Capital University.

"It's a phenomenal tool," he said. "We're very fortunate to have it."

In order to use the Zero motorcycle, officers must have certification from a department-approved training program and have logged at least 1,000 miles on their personal motorcycles, Kenefick said. The training and experience enables officers to make full use of the Zero motorcycle's features, he added.

"We can go up and down bike trails, hiking trials, unlike other motorcycles," he said. "It will be based on weather conditions -- temperature, rain, sleet and snow will limit its use. It can go in the rain, but we're going to time-limit its use. The cold's fine, but the pavement's got to be dry."

The department also has an electric cruiser that is used for patrols, which means that 20 percent of the department's 10 vehicles are electric.

Other than emitting almost no noise, the benefits of electric vehicles are that "the maintenance costs are like a third of that of a typical gas-combustion engine," Kenefick said.

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