A unit of the Highway Patrol has traded in its four-wheel vehicles for the two-wheel freedom of motorcycles, taking to their Harley’s on highways across Tennessee.
“They are much more mobile and agile in traffic,” explained Lt. Johnny McDonald who heads the Falcon Unit of the Highway Patrol. “They can spot certain violations easier than troopers who are in cars.”
An element of the Falcon Brigade was in Warren County on Thursday afternoon to work highway enforcement. The seven-man group is among the 28 certified riders who are on the mounted portion of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Trooper Josh Sparkman is the local Falcon Unit member.
“Motorcycles are able to maneuver in and out of traffic easier,” Lt. McDonald pointed out, noting the Falcon Unit is in high demand at special events like traffic enforcement around Bonnaroo. “They are often sent to patrol areas that have high accident numbers. It’s easier for mounted officers to see violations like texting while driving and seatbelt violations.”
To be a member of the Falcon Unit, the trooper must have some background in cycling and undergo an intensive two-week training program that includes more than 80 hours of course work. They must then re-certify on a regular basis.
The officers ride Harley-Davidson Electra Ride Police editions. Given their exposure to the elements, the Falcon Unit is somewhat seasonal. The officers all have regular patrol vehicles which they use when weather prevents them from being on mounted patrol.