Minneapolis, MN Police Department

The History of the Minneapolis Police Department Motorcycle Unit

Minneapolis Police Department found use of motors in 1909.  They were used up to the late 50’s – early 60’s.  We had some of the 3 wheeled motors towards the end of that time.  They were phased out and we didn’t get motors again until a few years ago.

1910 or 1911 THOR Motorcycle
1910 or 1911 Thor Motorcycles, The First Motor Squad
Old east Side Station 1915
May 19, 1915

Officer Otto G. Ostby was enroute by motorcycle to a burglar alarm at 2529 10th Avenue South. The building had been broken into earlier in the day and a watch and some change had been stolen. Officer Ostby was on Lake Street when the Bloomington Avenue streetcar turned into the barns at 21st Avenue. A passenger car appeared on the other side of the streetcar leaving the officer nowhere to turn. Ostby tried to squeeze between the car and the streetcar, but he hit the fender of the streetcar. He was thrown from his motorcycle and landed on his head, fracturing his skull and ribs and breaking his arm.

It was later revealed that Ostby apparently thought the call was an emergency. He had misunderstood the station sergeant who said there was no hurry. So, thinking he could catch the burglars, he was rushing to get there. He died a half hour after the accident.

Officer Ostby had been with the department for five years, since January 3, 1910. He was stationed at the Minnehaha station. He was 28 years old and had a wife and a five-year-old daughter. He was buried in Emmons, Minnesota.
Officer Clayton J. Seawell

May 4, 1929

Officer Clayton J. Seawell was driving his motorcycle at the intersections of Seventeenth Avenue and Fifth Street Northeast when he rear ended a vehicle driven by Peter Brinde. Officer Seawell was thrown from the motorcycle hitting his head on the road. He died from a fractured skull shortly after arriving at the hospital. Brinde called police and Officers L.R. Gorske and Martin Q. Lilljord responded. While enroute, they were involved in an accident at University Avenue and East Hennepin. No one was injured, and they continued on to the other crash.

Officer Seawell was 31 years old. He became an officer October 1st, 1923. He was survived by his wife and five children: Dorothy, 9, Bonnie, 8, Betty, 7, Thomas, 3, and Richard, 1. (Thomas later joined the Minneapolis Police Department on January 17th, 1955.) Officer Seawell’s funeral was held at his home at 640 Johnson Street Northeast on Wednesday and his burial was held at St. Anthony Cemetery.


Information and Photos provided by the Minneapolis, MN Police Department.