The History of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office
In 1887, Osceola County, Florida was formed out of Orange and Brevard Counties. On August 6, 1887, Thomas Alexander Bass was elected the county’s first sheriff’ The son of Joseph Everett “Buck” Bass and Christine Cameron, Tom was born July 17, 1855, in Tattnal County, Georgia, the fifth of seven children. Law Enforcement ran in the family, as Tom’s father served as the sheriff of Irwin County, Georgia, for eight years, and sheriff of Clinch County, Georgia, for three tears following the War Between the States.
Since the term of Sheriff Bass, law enforcement has undergone many changes and developments, growing stronger and more effective throughout the years. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office continues to serve the community with pride, appreciating the accomplishments of the past and anticipating the challenges of the future.
The History of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Motorcycle Unit
By Lt. Amaury Murgado
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office was also established in 1887. It has a long-standing history of dedicated service and partnering with the community, and currently has 700 employees of which 424 are worn. One of the agency’s top specialty unit is its Motor Unit, which is part of the Special Operations Division.
The Motor Unit was first established under Sheriff K.O. Murphy in December of 1971 with one full-time Sergeant and Deputy. They rode two newly purchased 1971 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide police motorcycles. The current Motor Unit consists of one Sergeant and five Deputies, all full-time Motor Officers. The Special Operations Lieutenant, who is in charge of Aviation, DUI/Aggressive Driving, K-9 and Motor Units, ride part-time and the agency’s reserve programs has one reserve motor officer.
The Sheriff’s Office recently purchased seven 2013 Harley-Davidson FLHTP Electra Glide motorcycles. They are outfitted with the latest technology in LED lighting and stage one performance enhancements consisting of upgraded exhaust, air cleaner and fuel management components. The motorcycle’s custom decals and lighting package were designed with input from each member of the unit. The custom white color was picked by the Sheriff Bob Hansell, now in his third term. Each motorcycle utilizes a mobile data computer and ticket printer in the rear radio box, and laser radar.
Sheriff Hansell has always understood the value of a good motors program and has supported the unit by allowing new training ideas, its expansion, and purchase of cutting-edge equipment. Recently, he authorized the Motor Unit to develop a cross training program to create a pool of qualified riders to be utilized when motor officers are training or on leave. Members of this pool will also be allowed to check out a motorcycle when available. This cross-training initiative will greatly enhance the Motor Unit’s mission which includes traffic, escort, parade, rider safety education and dignitary protection.
The Motor Unit participates in at least three motorcycle training “rodeo” competitions every year. The unit also maintains a small training area located at its vehicle maintenance facility. The training courses are changed every month and the Motor Officers typically use them at the beginning of their shifts to warm up before starting their tour of duty.
The Motor Unit periodically conducts a safety education program called Safe Motorcycle and Rider Techniques (S.M.A.R.T). It consists of six different stations which covers all aspects of safe motorcycle riding, taking basic motorcycle endorsement training to the next level. The program is open to all civilians regardless of riding experience and has been a huge success in promoting safe riding and has been attended by area dignitaries and multiple civilian rider groups. To date, there has never been an open slot left in the class.
The Motor Unit maintains as active relationship with the Blue Knights (Florida Chapter 29). The Blue Knights consists of active and retired law enforcement officers, and the unit makes good use of their collective experience through volunteer services. The Blue Knights help the Sheriff’s Office by volunteering with memorial services, ceremonies, educational programs and charity events.
In addition to core traffic enforcement duties, the Motor Unit also participates in directed patrol including S.T.E.P (Selective Traffic Enforcement Program), Zero Tolerance, Habitual Traffic Offender, DUI Checkpoint operations, and assists other agencies with training and participates in their operations when requested.
In July of 2012, Sheriff Hansell and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office hosted the Florida Sheriff’s Association Summer Conference. Among other duties, the Motor Unit provided the escort for the Sheriff’s Ride to Sugar Loaf Mountain, which is one of Florida’s five highest peaks. The ride consisted of sheriff’s, local dignitaries and Blue Knight members.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office enjoys a very special relationship with the Special Olympics. Each year, the Special Olympics Torch Run ends in Osceola County at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Champion Stadium which is home to the Atlanta Braves’ spring training. Each year, over 100 police motorcycles and 30 patrol vehicles help with the final leg of the Torch Run which in turns flows into the opening ceremonies. All the police motorcycles and patrol cars line up at the back of the stadium inner field. It becomes an emotional moment for all when Champion Stadium is filled with lights and sirens to help inspire and motivate the Olympians who are getting ready to start their games the next day.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Motor Unit has a proud 42-year history of service. It is a well-respected unit within the community and proud to be in partnership with Harley-Davidson Motor Company as it fulfills its role within Special Operations.
Information and Photos provided by the Osceola County, FL Sheriff’s Office.