For 1st time in 20 years, PTC has motorcycle cop on patrol
There is something new in law enforcement on the streets of Peachtree City. Beginning about three weeks ago Corporal Chris Hyatt and his Harley-Davidson motorcycle started patrolling city streets and sometimes going places that no patrol car has gone before.
Peachtree City Police Lt. Mark Brown said the last time Peachtree City had a motorcycle cop was during the period from 1986-1990. But now, two decades later, the department felt that the time had come for taking a serious look at starting up the effort again. The pilot program will run for two years, Brown said, adding that a motorcycle is about half the cost of a patrol vehicle.
The reasons for going back to having a motorcycle cop on the street are actually pretty simple, Brown said. Some of Peachtree City’s intersections, like the one at Ga. highways 54 and 74, generate far more traffic than ever before. It is a trend that will only continue. Brown said that, in bumper to bumper traffic congestion, a motorcycle can maneuver in and out of standstill traffic in a manner that is impossible for police cruisers.
Other benefits of having a motorcycle on duty includes responding to cart path emergencies and in community relations.
“Kids just gravitate to it,” Brown said. “It’s been a big hit.”
Brown said the city originally planned to begin with two motorcycles but scaled back those plans. The department has a two-year lease on the motorcycle and will be evaluating its effectiveness. The department could add a second unit if that effectiveness is proven, Brown added.
Hyatt took a few minutes Saturday morning to discuss his new vehicle and what it took to be the first officer in 20 years to roll on city streets with only two wheels.
Hyatt earlier this year traveled to Ohio to attend the motorcycle school sponsored by Northwestern University and Harley-Davidson. The training was not for the faint-hearted, Wyatt said. Officers were put through numerous exercises and scenarios to test their stamina and endurance and their ability to successfully maneuver through nearly any obstacle.
“You become an expert at picking up a 900-pound motorcycle,” Hyatt said with a chuckle. And Hyatt is no stranger to motorcycles, having been a rider since 2002. It was just that the training was intense and many officers taking the course do not pass. “It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.”
Hyatt returned to the state to get two weeks of field training on the streets of DeKalb County.
And then, toward the end of July, Hyatt set his wheels on the streets of Peachtree City, usually patrolling Monday-Friday or Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. For obvious reasons, his schedule intentionally coincides with both daily rush hours.
When a traffic accident or other emergency occurs, Hyatt will not be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic at intersections like the one at Hwy. 54 and Hwy. 74. And that ability to respond rapidly can make all the difference, he noted.
When not in traffic, Hyatt and his Harley tend to draw attention wherever they go.
“People stop you and want to see the motorcycle and find out all about it,” he said, adding that he takes the bike to middle schools and to youth sports activities. “It has a lot of value for PR and community relations.”
Reflecting back over the past few months, Hyatt said that when the idea of riding a motorcycle first surfaced he waited until the last day to put his name in the hat for consideration.
“I didn’t know if I’d like it,” Hyatt said. “But I absolutely love it. But now they’d have to pry it away from me.”