Los Angeles, CA Police Department

Los Angeles Police Department

100th Motor Anniversary Celebration

By Motor Lieutenant Manny Romeral

Los Angeles Police Department

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) motorcycle program. It represented a significant milestone for the city of Los Angeles, LAPD and all of the courageous men and women who for the past 100 years have dedicated themselves to protecting and serving the citizens of Los Angeles. The success of the LAPD’s early motor pioneers resulted in the 1909 formation of the “Speed Squad,” which represented the predecessor of today’s professional and organized motorcycle program. Given their exceptional mobility, riding skills and tenacity, motor officers have consistently demonstrated their unique ability to quickly respond anywhere within the city, regardless of traffic conditions, emergencies or significant events. Over this same time span, motor officers have proudly and safely escorted countless foreign dignitaries, heads of state, prominent world figures and presidents of the United States of America without incident.

Over the past century, LAPD motors have used a variety of motorcycle manufacturers such as Indian, Thor, Excelsior-Henderson, Harley-Davidson, Moto Guzzi, Honda, Kawasaki, and BMW. Currently, over 80 percent of the motor fleet is comprised of Harley-Davidson Electra Glides. Since those early years, the motorcycle program has evolved beyond mere traffic enforcement. The LAPD currently has 304 men and women assigned to the LAPD’s motorcycle force: one motor lieutenant, 32 motor sergeants, 259 motor officers and 12 motor reserve officers (part-time).

To celebrate and commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime occasion, the LAPD and the Los Angles Police Department Motor Officer Memorial Fund (LAPDMOMF) sponsored a public/media event on Friday, October 2, 2009, at the LAPD’s historic Elysian Park Police Academy. In addition to a charity blood drive for Children’s Hospital, the event included vintage and current police motorcycles, several motorcycle related vendors, guest speakers, food music and a performance by the LAPD’s Motorcycle Drill Team. Earlier in the day, after a group of motor photograph session at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, all LAPD motors roared through historic downtown Los Angeles in a commemorative procession to the Police Academy. The awe-inspiring motor procession, which at times stretched for several blocks, was safely facilitated by the gracious efforts of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s (LASD) entire motor squad. At one point, when combined with the LAPD and LASD, there were close to 400 police motorcycles involved with the commemorative procession.

The celebration concluded on Saturday, October 3, 2009, with a huge family-oriented reunion sponsored by LAPDMOMF for active and retired LAPD motor personnel at the Police Academy. The event, which drew over 650 attendees, was a resounding success. In addition to catered food and beverage service, attendees were treated to several vendors, vintage and current police motorcycles. Even the needs of cigar aficionados were taken care of during the event with the availability of on-the-spot-hand rolled cigars. During the reunion festivities, awards were presented for various motor accomplishments and a special yet sober tribute was held for 42 motor officers killed in the line of duty since 1909. The generous support of several sponsors, including Harley-Davidson, and the assistance of several active and retired Department employees ensured an absolutely enjoyable event for all in attendance. However, the entire two-day commemorative event would have never become a reality if it had not been for LAPD Motor Officer Roger Stewart and Mitchell Nowlen, whose vision, passion and tireless efforts over a brief and stressful seven months managed to orchestrate a memorable event on literally a shoe-string budget!

1950’s New Freeway
1950’s New Freeway
1957 LAPD at a Drag Race
Remember Eddie Haskell of “Leave It to Beaver” fame? Ken Osmond, his real name, joined LAPD and worked in Vice and as a motor cop. In September 1980, he was shot three times in a foot chase after a car thief. Two of the bullets struck his bullet resistant vest and the third ricocheted off his belt buckle. Bottom left shows Osmond in the ambulance.
He eventually retired from the force in 1988 after 18 years. The shooting was later dramatized in a November 1992 episode of the CBS series Top Cops. So Eddie Haskell ended up being a good guy after all!!
LAPD Motor Officer Ken Osmond
LAPD Moto Guzzi
(Photo provided by D. Michael Kruggel) Kawaski KZ 1000
1985 (Photo provided by D. Michael Kruggel) Kawasaki KZ 1000
(Photo provided by D. Michael Kruggel) Kawasaki KZ 1000
(Photo provided by D. Michael Kruggel) Kawasaki KZ 1000
(Photo provided by D. Michael Kruggel) Kawasaki KZ 1000

Information and Photos provided by Los Angles, CA Police Department The article of the 100th Anniversary provided by the Municipal Motor Officers of California (MMOC) 2010 publication “The Siren”.Reprinted with permission of the MMOC.  Thank You.