A police motorcycle that likely was headed for a junkyard will get new life as a "Community Events Bike," thanks to donations from the Reynoldsburg community.
Reynoldsburg police officer James Triplett and Sgt. Mark Moser said the creation of the Reynoldsburg Police Department Motor Unit last year proved quite popular with residents, especially younger ones. When officers rode their motorcycles to more than 40 organized events in Reynoldsburg and around Columbus in 2013, people noticed and came up to talk.
"The best part of my job was watching kids' eyes light up when I told them they could climb up on the bike," Triplett said.
The Motor Unit consists of two police motorcycles and five staff members -- Moser, Triplett and officers Tim Kessler, Jeremy Severance and Dan Downing.
Moser said the unit's mission is primarily traffic control, to promote the safe and efficient use of city streets by both motorists and pedestrians.
The popularity of the motorcycle unit, though, sparked a plan to create a customized motorcycle purely designed to attract people at an event.
"When you draw the kids to the bike, the parents and other people who like motorcycles feel comfortable enough to come up and talk to us about what is happening in their neighborhoods," Moser said.
He said the Community Events Bike will be made from an old patrol motorcycle that Reynoldsburg police officers had used for many years but is now retired from service.
Instead of scrapping the motorcycle or selling it for parts, the division decided to modify and customize it with new parts to turn it into a "show bike."
Moser said when officers form bonds and relationships with the community, citizens may feel comfortable enough to communicate their needs.
"We believe a customized motorcycle will draw people to our officers for photo opportunities, which will, in turn, open lines of communication," he said. "Communicating with the public will keep us focused on attaining our goal of promoting a safer Reynoldsburg and improving our relations with the community."
Triplett said officers in the Motor Unit distributed information sheets to local groups and businesses, asking for donations.
"We talked to local business owners and told them what we are trying to do," he said. "We also plan to display a banner with the bike that has the names of all of the sponsors."
Moser estimated about $5,000 would be needed to complete the project.
So far, donors include Reynoldsburg VFW Post 9473, which gave $500 to the project; the Smart Stop Valero gasoline station, which gave $100; Robie's Pub, which gave $100; and the Buffalo Wild Wings on Taylor Square Drive, which gave $200.
Bikes 2 NV in Gahanna is donating handlebars for the project.
Triplett said any organizations or businesses that would like to make a donation, or would like to discuss the project, should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Moser at email@example.com or call 614-866-6622.
"This project is a great way for us to reach out to the community," he said. "Anytime we can draw people in and talk to them in a non-enforcement setting can help us better address their problems."
Although the Community Events "Bike" is actually a motorcycle, the Reynoldsburg Police Department also has an actual Bike Patrol Unit, consisting of six mountain bicycles and six officers.
Moser said that unit was established almost 20 years ago.
"Their goal is to deal with off roadway incidents and to patrol areas such as apartment complexes, parks and areas where a cruiser may not be able to go," he said.
The Bike Unit consists of officers Vincent Scalmato, Michael Kopacko, Nick Keisel, Damon Faraone, Scott Marshall and Jamie Burr.
"When you draw the kids to the bike, the parents and other people who like motorcycles feel
comfortable enough to come up and talk to us about what is
happening in their neighborhoods."
- SGT. MARK MOSER
Reynoldsburg Police Department