PETERSBURG, Va. — A new crime-fighting tool in Petersburg is already slowing down speeders and catching drivers running stop signs.
Neighbors say it’s making a difference where it counts – on the streets they live on.
“It has absolutely slowed people down, you can feel it on the street,” concerned citizen Cindy Jenkins said.
For drivers in Petersburg, two wheels are now appearing in rear view mirrors.
“Very surprised and shocked,” Petersburg police Motorcycle Officer Mike Howell said of resident’s reactions to the motorcycles. “Typically the first question I always get is, I didn’t know Petersburg had motorcycles.”
The city’s newest tool to fight crime is a motorcycle fabricated by Harley Davidson’s Safety Division – built to police specs and small in stature.
“Able to conceal a little bit better from the public view,” Howell said.
It is easily tucked away on streets where there are two major complaints.
“The excessive speeding and the excessive stop sign running,” Howell said. Both are common complaints along Grove Avenue in Petersburg.
And on one of the city’s most historic streets?
“High Street, for example, on the first three days of enforcement, I wrote over 75 drivers for excessive speeding,” Howell said. “We haven’t had a speed complaint from the neighborhood in about a month in a half.”
However, Jenkins says speeding is a constant issue on High Street.
“There are people who fly, that is just unsafe, even for other motorists driving.”
Jenkins says since Officer Howell and his motorcycle have appeared, they have “absolutely made a difference.”
It hasn’t been just speeders and stop sign runners that have been caught by the use of the new motorcycle officers.
“We’ve found wanted persons driving the vehicles, a lot of people driving without licenses, that can contribute to hit and runs,” Howell said.
He has also confiscated guns and drugs, after stops made with the motorcycle.
On Thursday morning, speeders recently ticketed on High Street, were in court, with fines ranging from $265 to over $500.
And the new motorcycles did not cost taxpayers a dime. “The motorcycle was part of a grant process, to my understanding. It didn’t cost the city any money for the motorcycle or the outfit,” Howell said.
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