The Santa Clara Police Department’s motorcycle unit has a long tradition of wearing uniforms designed for cavalry officers. These tall boots, poly blend pants, open face helmets and wool shirts were popularized in the 1980s TV show CHiPs. However, these uniforms are hot, uncomfortable and lack many modern safety features.
Motorcycle officers have one of the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement and are susceptible to crashes on the road. With the assistance of Community Oriented Policing Services grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Santa Clara Police Department’s motorcycle officers are now wearing sleek Shark and Shoei helmets and high-tech, low-weight Kevlar-reinforced uniforms. The pads on the shins, side, tailbone, elbows and shoulders serve as an additional shield to protect officers from high impact injuries, road rash and skin tearing in the event of a slide or crash.
SCPD’s motorcycle unit is the largest unit among the thirteen cities in Santa Clara County. The unit has many functions including traffic enforcement (e.g. speeding, distracted driving, carpool lane violations, etc.), monitoring school zones and areas with a high volume of collisions or violations, accident reconstruction, fatal accident investigation and public relations. The unit works closely with the City’s Traffic Engineering Department on engineering referrals, education and enforcement.
Service demands for the motorcycle unit have increased with the overall population growth in the region and the increased number of drivers in the region.