Reynoldsburg's new Police Motor Unit combines two things James Triplett said he likes to do -- working as a police officer and riding a motorcycle.
"I love it," he said. "I think it also makes me more approachable as a police officer. I'm getting a lot of thumbs-up from people."
Triplett is the department's first full-time motorcycle officer. He said he'll be patrolling and investigating citizen complaints on the division's new 2013 Harley Davidson motorcycle during his daily work hours between April 1 and Dec. 1 each year.
The others in the unit are Sgt. Mark Moser and officers Tim Kessler, Jeremy Severance and Dan Downing.
So far, the department has only two motorcycles, but a third has been ordered, Triplett said.
"We will have officers on motorcycles as schedules permit, but would have at least two to three officers out for special community events, like the Fourth of July parade," he said.
Lt. Ron Wright said the motor unit should improve the department's ability to meet the traffic-related needs of the city.
"Our No. 1 category of complaint in the city is speeding and parking violations," he said. "We often receive emailed complaints from citizens but have not been able to respond in a timely way to those complaints. Now we will have a dedicated officer to investigate those complaints."
Triplett said he won't just be cruising around town looking for problems.
"We received 58 traffic-related complaints last month," he said. "As an example, one of the complaints was excessive speeding on Firstgate Drive. We patrolled that area for a week. We've also been working in a lot of school zones."
He said the motor unit will deal with "anything on a roadway" and will be fueled by citizen complaints and will focus on areas where extra enforcement is needed to improve traffic flow.
He and the other officers recently attended Harley Davidson's motor officer school for two weeks, to brush up on their safety skills.
Wright said Reynoldsburg police officers have operated motorcycles for many years as an ancillary duty in lieu of driving a police car.
"We have had motorcycles on the streets, but not as a unit that is dedicated to deal with traffic complaints," he said.
He said once a complaint is taken by dispatchers, Triplett will review the situation, contact the complainant and develop a strategy to deal with the problem.
Wright said Triplett's response could be as simple as stopping at a residence to discuss a parking problem or developing an enforcement strategy to deal with excessive speeding in a neighborhood.
"Forming the unit was also a cheaper way to add officers and enforcement instead of buying another police cruiser," he said. "Having a dedicated motor unit also develops opportunities within the police department for employees to work toward."
Wright said the motorcycles will put officers "closer to the community."
He said Sgt. Moser is the unit's supervisor.
The division will be hiring two more officers this year, he said.
"Whenever we need officers to ride for a community event, officer Triplett will head up the motor unit, unless he is busy with another police task," Wright said.
He said the unit will ensure citizens' complaints about traffic and parking are attended to in a timely manner.
"Officer Triplett or another motor officer will make every attempt to meet with an individual wishing to file a complaint or discuss a traffic-related problem," he said.
Members of the community are encouraged to contact Triplett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The main number for the Reynoldsburg Police Department is 614-866-6622.