Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department

The History of the Washington DC Metro Police Department Motorcycle Unit

Historical Background of the Metropolitan Police Department, (MPD) Washington, D.C. In 1790, Maryland and Virginia ceded portions of their territory for the purpose of establishing the Federal City. For the next 10 years, the Federal City was policed by constables appointed by these two states. In 1802, when the original charter of Washington was approved, police authority was centralized and power was granted to the city itself to establish patrols, impose fines, and establish inspection and licensing procedures. Until the creation of the Metropolitan Police Department in 1861, the city had only an auxiliary watch with one captain and 15 policemen. Today the MPD has grown in diversity as well as size, with a sworn force of almost 4000 members. The members of the Metropolitan Police Department strive to uphold a proud tradition of excellence. The MPD continues to be an exemplary department which often serves as both host and teacher to police officials from around the world.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) began using motorcycles in 1912 as motorized transportation became more widely available. Motorcycles replaced horses as a primary mode of travel for police officers in the city. Sidecars were added to the motorcycles in 1932. In the earlier years, motormen rode with their partners in the side cars.

The motorcycles are used to escort the President and Vice President of the United States of America. The motorcycles are also used to escort foreign kings, presidents and dignitaries from all over the world. Due to their maneuverability, these motorcycles also facilitate mass demonstrations throughout Washington, D.C.

The current model of motorcycle utilized is the Harley Davidson FLHTP. The department currently has a fleet of 40 motorcycles. Presently the sidecars are used throughout the winter months during inclement weather for stability. The sidecars are installed in November and removed in March after the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

Requirements To Become A Member of the Motor Unit: Must be a member of the MPD in good standing, with a minimum of three years of service, must complete a timed skilled riding course and interview process. Those selected must have or be willing to complete and successfully pass 120 hours of rigorous motorcycle and sidecar training.

1922 Washington DC Metro Police Motor, A Henderson Motorcycle
2002 Southeast Police Motorcycle Rodeo
Rolling Thunder 2009, Photo provided by Stephen King
Photo provided by Stephen King
 Photo provided by Stephen King
Photo provided by Stephen King
Photo provided by Stephen King
Photo provided by Stephen King
 2015 (Photo provided by E. Rogers)
President Barack Obama poses for photos at the South Portico of the White House, Oct. 31, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
(Photo provided by E. Rogers)
(Photo provided by E. Rogers)
  (Photo provided by E. Rogers)
(Photo provided by E. Rogers)
(Photo provided by E. Rogers)
MPD’s Motorcycle Unit Gears Up for the 58th Presidential Inauguration
Friday, January 6, 2017
January is a busy month for the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) Motorcycle Unit as they are gearing up for the 58th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2017.  The event is expected to draw large crowds and MPD is working in close cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Park Police, Metro and other agencies to ensure that everyone can enjoy the events safely. The department has proudly served in Presidential Inaugurals since the second inaugural of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. 
“Any inaugural is an extraordinary event for the people of Washington, DC and for the nation,” said MPD’s Special Operations Division (SOD) Commander Jeffery Carroll.  “Our motorcyclists have trained hard and we take enormous pride in having the opportunity to participate in such a historical event.”
An intensive 80 hours of motorcycle training helps develop the motorcyclist’s coordination, skill, and confidence necessary to operate the motorcycle safely and efficiently.  The training covers slow speed maneuvering, control, braking, curve negotiation, motorcycle maintenance, defensive driving techniques, escorts, details, and other law enforcement techniques.
An additional 40 hours of motorcycle sidecar training is also required.  The sidecar allows the unit to operate all year-round, providing extra stability during inclement weather. 
“Motorcycles are essential for maneuvering in heavy traffic,” said Lieutenant Andrew Margiotta, who assisted with the planning and coordination of President Barack Obama’s 2013 Presidential Inauguration and is currently the leader of MPD’s Motor Unit.
During the procession, the unit will be using the nearly 900 pound 2016 Harley-Davidson FLHTP Ultra Glide Police Motorcycle and will ride in the Motor V formation.   This formation is common in ceremonial rides and processions. The Motorcycle Unit also allows MPD to effectively patrol the entire National Mall for the anticipated crowds who will come to experience this moment in history.  MPD has been using the Harley Davidson since the inception of the Motorcycle Unit over 100 years ago.
The Motor Cycle Unit has many responsibilities, which is why Lt. Margiotta encourages his officers to practice their safe riding skills every day and to remain alert.  “Leading the inaugural procession is just one of the many functions of this unit.  After training, the unit is prepared for any major event including escorting the President of the United States, basic traffic, large demonstrations, marches, parades, and other details,” said Lt. Margiotta.
During the Inauguration, participants should enjoy themselves and know that police units and lines are there for their security and safety.
“Vigilance, attention, and alertness are crucial during large events such as these,” said Commander Carroll.  “MPD members and the public should stay aware of their surroundings.  If you notice any suspicious activity, unusual actions, presence of bags, packages, items that cannot be immediately associated with their owner please notify the police.”
Common questions about metro stops, hours of operation, closed metro stations, spectator and vehicle entry points, public toilet facilities, places to eat, seating, times of events and what items are allowed into secure areas will be updated on the USA.gov website: https://www.usa.gov/inauguration-2017 (Photo provided by Darrin Edwards) Jan. 6, 2017

Information and Photos provided by the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department