1997 Kawasaki KZ 1000 Police P-16 from the City of Hialeah
The “POLICE MOTOR UNITS LLC” Kawasaki KZ1000 Police Motorcycle was sold to Hialeah, FL Police Department from The Star City Kawasaki Dealer in Virginia, around Sept. 5, 1997. The Hialeah Police Department designated this Motorcycle as 748. 7 for the year 1997, 48 as it was the 48 vehicle in the fleet. 748 was in service with the City of Hialeah from Sept 1997 to Oct 1999. Officer Bony Herrera was the first Officer to ride Motor 748. Motor 748 spent her career in Law Enforcement doing Traffic Enforcement, Escorts, Special Events and Rodeos. Later she became a Motor School Training Motorcycle. Motor 748 was sold in a Police Auction in Late 1999. I bought Motor 748 from a private person in 2007.
I have put the original unit numbers back on the motorcycle. 748 is back to original condition. Motor 748 in now back in the Law Enforcement community doing rodeos and public events. Motor 748 also participates in monthly training with the Palm Beach County, FL Sheriff’s Office and trains with other agencies Motor Units. In 2019 the City of Hialeah gave permission to Police Motor Units LLC to place Hialeah Police on her with the original black and with tank badge.
748 can be seen at Police Motorcycle events and public events.
The KZ1000P is authentic and Steve Tritt rides it like a pro. But while he may tell you stories about the history of police motorcycle units, he won’t write you a ticket.
If a guy walks, talks and rides like a motor cop, he probably is a motor cop, right? And if he rides a fully outfitted Kawasaki KZ1000P police bike that is such an icon that people shout “CHiPs” at him at stoplights, then that just confirms it.
Well, sometimes all is not exactly what it seems. Steve Tritt and his 1997 KZ police model look the part, they go through the same intensive training that on-duty motor cops follow, and Tritt knows the business like few others, but they’ve never been on duty together. They are, however, as close as any partners.
Tritt was an officer with the Orangeburg Public Safety Department in South Carolina until a serious heart condition nearly cost him his life and forced him to retire from duty. It was only in retirement that he took up motorcycling after his father bought a motorcycle.
“I got bit hard by the riding bug,” Tritt remembers, but he was asking to borrow his father’s motorcycle so much that his father finally told him to get his own.
Tritt’s first bike was a cruiser that he rode around Florida. But on a trip to the Florida Keys he made a mistake and crashed it. At that point, he realized he had a lot to learn about riding.
“I just wanted to be a safer rider,” he said. “With my police background, I know a lot of motor cops. I ended up learning from those guys, riding with them.”
Along with his desire to become a more skilled rider, Tritt also pursued his interest in the history of motorcycle police units. During his recuperation from near-fatal heart problems, Tritt created a website documenting the history of police motorcycles (www.policemotorunitsllc.com). When it came time to replace the cruiser he had crashed, Tritt put it all together and bought the most iconic police motorcycle of all, a used 1997 Kawasaki KZ1000P.
Tritt bought the old KZ from an individual who had bought it at auction. Using the VIN, he traced its history back to the Hialeah, Fla., police department. He rode the bike back to the city where it once patrolled as unit M748 and found the officer, Sgt. Bony Herrera, who rode it on duty from 1997 to 1999. Tritt also met the mechanic who had maintained the bike when it was on active duty, and the mechanic walked into a back room and emerged with the siren, radio and other gear it used to carry. That gesture allowed Tritt to return the KZ to its original condition.
“She’s basically put back to the same way she was set up back in ’97,” Tritt says. There’s even still a hole in the seat where a new holster Sgt. Herrera was carrying all those years ago rubbed against it.
Thanks to the huge numbers of Kawasaki police bikes that patrolled the country’s highways, as well as the bike’s appearance in countless movies and television shows, particularly the series “CHiPs” from the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tritt’s bike is the exact mental image of a police motorcycle that many people remember. “It’s an iconic bike,” he says. “You pull up to a light and people shout, ‘CHiPs, CHiPs!’”
But Tritt didn’t just want the bike to look authentic. He also wanted to ride with the same skill the motor cops show. On his own time, Tritt practices the intense drills that motor cops work on. One day he spent seven hours trying to master one particular tight turn. Once a month, he joins the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department’s motor unit for their in-service training, a rigorous polishing of skills all motor officers must do. To Tritt, the training is fun, not work.
“I’m a training hound. I love training,” he says. “I barely have any floorboards left,” after grinding them into the pavement while practicing the tight turns and low-speed maneuvers that are part of motor unit practice.
As of this writing, Tritt’s KZ has about 180,000 miles on it and that number is climbing quickly. He’s responsible for about half that mileage. He rides the motorcycle around Florida, visiting police departments, promoting motorcycle safety and publicizing his website. He’s also a regular fixture at the annual South East Police Motorcycle Rodeo competition, where full-time, active motor officers test themselves in individual and team skills competitions.
Over those years and miles, Tritt and the KZ have become partners, as tight as any two officers who serve together.
“It’s a real relationship,” he says. “I know what she’s going to do, she knows what I’m going to do. We’ve trained together.”
As they begin the old KZ’s third trip around the odometer, it’s pretty clear that for this bike and rider, retirement doesn’t mean sitting still.