Boston, MA Police Department

The History of the Boston Police Department Motorcycle Unit

The 100th Years Anniversary Celebration

By P.O. Robert E. Anthony

Chronologist, Boston Police Department

From the Harley-Davidson “The Motor Officer” Fall 2012

The 100th anniversary of the Boston Police Department’s world-renowned motorcycle program represents a significant milestone for the City of Boston, Boston Police Department, and all of the courageous men and women who for the past 100 years have dedicated themselves to protect and serve the citizens of the City of Boston. The success of BPD’s early motor pioneers resulted in the formation of the “Speed Squad” in 1912, which was the predecessor of today’s professional, organized motorcycle program. Given their exceptional mobility, riding skills and tenacity, mobile operations officers have consistently demonstrated their unique ability to quickly respond anywhere in the city, regardless of traffic conditions, emergency or significant event. Over this same time span, mobile operation officers have proudly and safely escorted countless foreign dignitaries, heads of state, prominent world figures and Presidents of the United States without incident. Motorcycles have been utilized for all types of duties and assignments. Over the years the motorcycles have been used in crowd control, disbursement of protestors, and in neighborhoods where they are deployed in highly visible and proactive enforcement areas. These Officers have arrested many suspects who are wanted for violent firearm and drug-related offenses. The unit as transformed itself into a tactical-base unit, with its mission being to suppress and stop violent criminals by utilizing tactical maneuvers.

     Over the past century, the BPD Mobile Operations Patrol (MOP) Unit has utilized Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Currently, 100% of the motor fleet is comprised of Harley-Davidson Road King models. Since those early years, the motorcycle program has evolved beyond traffic enforcement to include special weapons and S.W.A.T. tactics.

    To celebrate and commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime occasion, Boston Police Department sponsored a public/media event on September 16, 2012. The event was held at Fenway Park, one of the oldest and historic baseball parks in the United States, which also celebrated its 100th anniversary. The commissioner lead all of his motorcycle officers, including former members of the Boston Police Motorcycle Unit, on a memorial “Ride to Remember” for the six fallen Motorcycle Officers through the Historic City of Boston. Accompanied by honor guards, the riders rode past each location where a “Hero” sign was posted and were saluted by a Officer stationed at each locations. The ride ended at Special Operations Headquarters located in Roxbury. Six era Harley-Davidson unmanned “Silent Rider” motorcycles were parked in front of the new memorial. Special Operations Officers and family members then placed white gloves and a red rose on each seat in memory of our fallen heroes. An inspection of the Boston Police Mobile Operations Officers and their motorcycles was then conducted by Superintendent William Evans commander of BFS along with a blessing of the motorcycles by the clergy of the Boston Police Department.

    A special dedication of a bronze and granite memorial was unveiled by Mayor Thomas Menino, Commissioner Edward F. Davis, Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey, family members of the six motorcycle officers who were killed in the line of duty and members of the Boston Police Department. The following Officers killed in the line of duty were recognized: Patrolman Ward M. Bray EOW 04/14/1921; Patrolman Peter Paul Oginskis EOW 05/05/1923; Patrolman Herbert D. Allen EOW 12/25/1927; Patrolman William L. Abbott EOW 11/28/1931; Patrolman Daniel A. McCallum EOW 05/12/1935; and Patrolman Michael J. Crowley EOW 05/12/1961. Their families received the Department Medal of Honor Posthumous. This truly is a fitting tribute to the men and women of the Boston Police Motorcycle Unit whose dedicated efforts over the past century has solidified Boston Police Department’s reputation as a preeminent law enforcement agency in the nation and helps to make the City of Boston a safe one.

1920 Indian Motorcycle
1921 Braves Field
1928 Police Parade
10.24.1952 Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in Boston.
9.24.1953 Pres. Dwight Gen. D. Eisenhower at Boston 9/21/53.
1958 Harley-Davidson Model FL Duo-Glide
1967 Harley-Davidson Model FLH
1976 Photographer Jeanne Delfino, L-R Kevin Johnson, Lisa Fitzferald, and Colin Moriarty in Lexington, MA

Information and Photos provided by the Boston, MA Police Department.