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Police solo bike unit gets new motorcycles

Older models racked up thousands of miles in traffic pursuits

Police solo bike officers Marlon Madariaga (left) and Jun Hattori along with Sgt. Gregg Rowe (center) stand by a new Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle in the Kihei Police Station parking lot. The bike, which was designed for use by police motorcycle officers, is one of two new motorcycles in the traffic unit. The Maui News/LILA FUJIMOTO photos

KIHEI — Two new motorcycles are being deployed in the police solo bike unit, replacing older models that have racked up thousands of miles over more than five years of traffic enforcement.

The new Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycles, which were designed to be used by police officers, have front shrouds, higher seats and bigger engines than the Road King models that were purchased when the motorcycle program was restarted in 2015.

The Maui County Council approved about $36,000 each for the new motorcycles, although police expect to spend less than the budgeted amount, said police traffic commander Lt. William Hankins.

“That’s huge for the council to give us two new bikes so we can take the older bikes off the road,” he said.

The decomissioned motorcycles will be used for monthly training that motorcycle officers undergo, Hankins said.

With solo bike officers often accelerating and decelerating during traffic pursuits and enforcement, the miles on the motorcycles are “Hana miles” and “harder than regular miles,” Hankins said.

Some of the original motorcycles have amassed more than 50,000 miles, police said.

“The life cycle is really short,” said Sgt. Gregg Rowe, who heads the unit that includes four solo bike officers.

In addition to funding the new motorcycles, the County Council authorized two new positions for the motorcycle unit, Hankins said.

Eventually, he said, additional solo bike officers could allow for an expansion of the program to provide traffic enforcement during earlier morning as well as evening hours.

Some of that enforcement is being done now through grant funding, he said.

In the first two months of the year, police traffic officers issued nearly 2,000 citations, including 420 for speeding, 12 for excessive speeding, 258 for seat belt violations and 242 for using a cellphone or other mobile electronic device while driving.

In addition to traffic enforcement, solo bike officers are able to navigate through traffic to reach a crash scene and arrange for tow trucks, Rowe said.

Two years ago, when vehicles made a slow drive around Kahului Airport to protest construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea on Hawaii island, solo bike officers maneuvered through the airport route to keep traffic moving with “no citations, no arrests, no hassles,” Hankins said.

“It makes a huge, huge difference to have these bikes,” he said.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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