Andrew Trzaska | February 14, 2012
Muskegon County’s motorcycle patrol unit continues to operate in 2012 thanks to funds donated from the American Legion, a nonprofit motorcycle education group and the promoters of Bike Time and the Hot Rod Power Tour.
The Muskegon County Sheriff’s motorcycle patrol unit has had a long decade of funding turmoil since its inception. The unit started in 2003 with three leased bikes, and was funded by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. When that funding source dried up only years later, the sheriff’s office asked Muskegon County to help fund the program. With the county’s recent budget crunch, solicitations for funding the patrol unit were publicly extended to keep it running.
Three groups stepped forward: The Holton chapter of the American Legion, American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE), and the Indiana-based company Family Events.
County commissioners recognized the collaborative donation at Tuesday’s full board meeting. District 3 Commissioner Jim Derezinski sits on the Hot Rod Power Tour committee and led recognition of the three parties.
“This year and last year we had to do some budget cuts… and one of those issues was the motor patrol, the Harley Cops,” said Derezinski. “I saw this as a good piece in our arsenal for public safety.”
According to their web site, ABATE’s mission includes improving the image of motorcyclists, sharing information regarding legislative action concerning motorcycling, and other networking benefits for members. Michigan’s Region 5 provided the donation, a region that includes Lake, Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties. They also operate a campground near Heritage Landing during Bike Time each year.
Hot Rod Power Tour is scheduled to return this June, an anomaly for a classic car tour that usually changes its series of venues every year. Muskegon Bike Time has been successful in its several years of existence and is scheduled to return indefinitely at this time.
Captain Michael Poulin of the sheriff’s office was present at Tuesday’s meeting. Poulin explained that county sheriff support benefits from these bikes at areas with large crowds, like Shoreline Drive during festivals at Heritage Landing or any event focused on Western Avenue.
“These are a great tool to utilize for traffic safety with all the events we have going on in the county,” said Poulin
Motorcycles are more maneuverable and able to be parked in smaller spaces than police cruisers; they are also more substantial and able carry more than a bicycle, a tool used by municipal police units, namely the City of Muskegon.
Officers who join the motorcycle patrol unit must take a two-week training at the Michigan State Police Academy.
Plans for next year’s funding source were not established at press time.