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Motorcycle units an asset to VPD

Published 11:12 am Monday, July 7, 2014

If you enjoyed any of the festivities this Fourth of July weekend, you probably noticed an increased presence of Vicksburg’s finest patrolling the streets and ensuring the peace was kept. What you may not have noticed, at least until it was too late, were the Vicksburg Police Department’s tall-boot-wearing, steel-horse-riding motorcycle cops catching you doing something you shouldn’t have been doing when you thought no one was watching. 

These men, who perform tasks ranging from traffic enforcement to accident investigations and funeral escorts, mount up on 2014 Harley-Davidsons and take to the streets in a more maneuverable and flexible form of transportation than your average police cruiser.

“We utilize the bike, especially because of its maneuverability,” traffic investigator Joseph Shows said. “It’s more maneuverable through traffic, can go in tighter places where cars can’t and it’s more fuel efficient.”

Shows, who has been with the department for 19 years, just joined the motor unit a year ago but says he enjoys it “when its not so hot.”

“When you get on a bike it’s a big stress relief,” Shows said. “Its fun to be out in the open and feel the breeze.”

Traffic investigator Eric Paymon has been riding with the department for six years, and cites visibility and the engagement of more of your senses as big benefits of riding a motorcycle.

“You can see more on a bike,” Paymon said.

“You don’t have a dashboard and doors,” Shows added. “You see everything, you smell everything.”

In addition to better field of vision, the ability to blend in is another benefit. Many drivers don’t realize that the motor units are police officers until it’s too late, the investigators said.

“I can get in position where people don’t realize it’s a police bike until they get up on it,” Shows said. “By that time I’ve already clocked them.”

While there are many advantages to the motor units, the one glaring downside to enforcing the law on two wheels is that the officers are exposed to the elements. If it’s raining out, they’re wet; if it’s July in Mississippi out, they’re practically melting.

“The trick is to keep moving,” Paymon said. “You’ve got to keep the air flowing.”

With the Miss Mississippi pageant kicking off this week, the motor units have some particularly busy days ahead of them, escorting contestants to and from hotels, parades and autograph signings. But if you’re driving around Vicksburg and see the flash of a chrome tailpipe or the roar of an engine in the coming days, it probably wouldn’t hurt to pump your brakes. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.