“I learned some new words from those guys,” Henry recalls. “They’d start those things every morning and sometimes they’d kick back.”
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The last motorcycle “unit” began in 1977 with a grant from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. The department purchased 4 Kawasaki KZ1000P motorcycles and two traffic cars (Chevy Nova’s). The unit disbanded and the motorcycles were stored, ridden occasionally in parades and at special events and eventually sold for salvage.
The new BMWs, when fully equipped with police packages, will cost about $35,000 each. Police obtained $60,000 in grant funds for the bikes from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
The funds are part of a $129,000 grant aimed at what is termed a “Norman Occupant Protection Enforcement Project.” It allows the department to expand enforcement efforts and increase public awareness of traffic safety.
The officers will keep their helmets on during traffic stops because that’s how they communicate with the dispatcher.
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Wasnick, a Norman officer for four years and a Krebs police officer for nearly five years, has ridden motorcycles for years. He and Smith were chosen from six applicants for the two-person team. Both had been on the department’s bicycle patrol.
“My dad bought me my first motorcycle when I was 10 and I’ve been in love with them ever since,” says Wasnick.
Both officers say they are more approachable when on motorcycles. Interacting with the public is part of the community policing philosophy adopted by NPD.
“It’s definitely a conversation starter,” says Smith. “I always thought this would be the coolest job in law enforcement and now I have it.”