CLAREMONT – Some police officers from Claremont will be patrolling the town on two wheels in the near future.
Ford of Claremont owner Christian Gomes donates a new motorcycle to the Claremont Police Department to help launch a new motorcycle unit.
Gomes, a retired police officer, has been a frequent benefactor of the Claremont Police Department since opening its dealership in 2018. In 2019, Gomes donated a new patrol car to the department, valued at approximately 38 $ 000, and a previous year donated a sports utility. vehicle.
Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase said it was “his dream” to create a motorcycle unit in the department.
Claremont Deputy Police Chief Mark DeGrasso, who rode motorcycles at previous police stations, will oversee the motorcycle unit and the training of new officers.
DeGrasso said motorcycles provide many benefits to law enforcement, including wider mobility options, motorcycle safety education, and community relations opportunities.
“When I’m on my motorbike [at a previous department], residents of the community would stop me to say hello. The kids would come out and we would put them on the motorbike and take pictures with them. You really can’t put a dollar value on that in terms of community policing. “
But perhaps the most unrecognized benefit relates to the recruitment of officers, according to DeGrasso.
“It’s been a difficult time to find good candidates, or any candidate interested in entering this line of work recently,” DeGrasso said. “These types of tools and career paths are becoming attractive to keep people around.”
Most major cities in New Hampshire have motorcycle units, as do the Lebanon Police Department and, recently, the Walpole Police Department, according to Claremont officers.
DeGrasso, a certified motorcycle instructor, could potentially provide in-house training. DeGrasso is also reaching out to his former motorcycle instructor, who now offers a certification program at the University of New Hampshire.
At least two current officers from the Claremont department have expressed interest in joining the unit, De Grasso said.
Chase said the main additional cost for a motorcycle unit will be vehicle maintenance. Chase was unsure how regular motorcycle tune-ups or tire replacement compared to the cost of the patrol cars, although the police chief was confident those costs would be absorbed in the current budget.
Some fuel and maintenance costs will be offset by reduced use of other vehicles in the department, Chase added.
Thanks to Gomes donations over the years, the Claremont fleet is “bigger than it has ever been,” said Chase. The new additions have also allowed the ministry to auction off some of its older vehicles to generate revenue.
There will also be costs for equipment like helmets and winter gear, the chef.
“So we don’t know [yet] how much those costs, because we don’t know how many officers will be involved, ”said Chase. “But I’m sure the costs can be absorbed into our normal operating budget.”
Gomes’ donation will also be used to pay for lettering and motorcycle details, for a total donation value of up to $ 25,000.
The use of the motorcycle will be “as long as possible,” said Chase.
“During storms and inclement weather, we won’t put officers on it,” Chase said. “But it would be as seasonal as possible. So it wouldn’t just be a 60-day cycle from July to August. “
On Wednesday, Claremont city council voted to accept Gomes’ donation.
Gomes was unable to attend the city council meeting. Chase said he plans to schedule a more formal presentation to unveil the new bike when its details and customization are complete.