The History of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Motorcycle Unit
D/S John Paul Harvey
PBSO Traffic Division –Motor Unit
Palm Beach County is located in South Florida along the Atlantic Ocean. Measuring nearly 2,400square miles, Palm Beach County is the largest county in Florida and is larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is also the third largest county in the state in population with approximately 1.3 million residents.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is the largest law enforcement agency with more than 4,000 employees, including more than 1,700 sworn law enforcement deputies. The motor unit is a full time, year-round, specialty unit within the Traffic Division that is comprised of 18 Deputies and two Sergeants.
The PBSO Motor Unit has been patrolling exclusively on Harley-Davidson Motorcycles since 1994. Currently, they use the FLHTP Electra Glide fairing model complete with custom decals, the latest technology in LED emergency lights and full size laptop computers contained within the radio box with traffic citation and accident reporting software. Additionally, all motors are outfitted with a 10” barrel M4 patrol rife in the saddle bag for critical incidents. Harley-Davidson motorcycles provide the best platform for a complete motorcycle package that fits the needs of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
The PBSO Motor Unit is tasked with a wide range of primary responsibilities including traffic enforcement, traffic crash investigation and assisting road patrol. Last year the Motor Unit issued over 100,000 traffic citations and written warnings. All Deputies assigned to Motors are required to attend both the At Scene Traffic Homicide Investigation Course and the Advanced Traffic Homicide Investigation Course. Many of the team members continue their professional education by successfully completing the Traffic Homicide Reconstruction Course. This advanced training was used in investigating nearly 450 traffic crashes last year.
Palm Beach County includes many wealthy coastal towns such as Palm Beach, Jupiter, Manalapan and Boca Raton.
The PBSO Motor Unit is frequently called upon to escort and provide dignitaries protection for presidential visit and to the various politicians and dignitaries that visit both during campaign season and year round
The PBSO Motor Unit prides itself on its diverse training program. All members must complete a rigorous two-week basic motor school to be considered for the unit. With a strong focus on training, nearly all the members have completed the Police Motorcycle Instructor course. Monthly in-service training is held in the classroom and on the driving range and covers topics that include unknown risk traffic stops, planning and performing escort, multi-surface riding, braking and accident avoidance exercises, operating in low-light conditions, and both basic and advance slow skill cone exercises. The monthly training is offered and attended by most of the motor units from local municipalities within the county and other motor units from surrounding counties. This interaction between agencies has strengthened both the personal and working relationships and helped to foster a strong sense of community among the various motor units in the area.
The PBSO Motor Unit also provides advanced civilian motorcycle training to Sheriff’s Office employees and their family members twice a year. PBSO motor instructors provide a two-day school that teaches how to recognize hazards while riding and provides professional training in accident avoidance, often with one-on-one coaching.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has embraced the community policing philosophy. Motor Deputies share and promote that philosophy by being approachable and problem solve by focusing enforcement efforts which reduce crashes and make the roadways safer. The motor Unit has a long tradition of excellence and looks forward to continuing that tradition of service in the future.
Information and Photos provided by the Palm Beach County, FL Sheriff’s Office.