In 2002, the UMass Amherst Police Department launched its Motorcycle Patrol Unit. Because of their mobility, motorcycles provide excellent emergency response through congested traffic, amidst the academic malls, and across other areas of the campus that are difficult to access. In addition, motorcycles are fuel-efficient, reducing the budgetary costs associated with operating the UMPD patrol fleet.
As with most police motorcycle units, traffic safety, control, and enforcement on campus are the primary functions of the UMPD unit. Motorcycle officers also provide specialized services such as dignitary protection, escorts, participation in parades and funeral processions, and other public relations duties.
Officers assigned to the motorcycle unit are volunteers from the ranks of the patrol division. They attend a special training course in police motorcycle operations, which consists of obstacle courses, motorcycle operating dynamics, riding in rough terrain, and emergency operation. The training is designed to provide the rider with the skills and confidence to operate the motorcycle in various environments and under adverse conditions.
On campus, the officers ride Harley Davidson motorcycles. Each weighs over 720 pounds and is equipped with emergency lights, a siren, traffic radar, and other specialized equipment. The most recent addition to the fleet is a 2007 Road King. This motorcycle has an air-cooled twin cam 88 V-Twin engine, dual exhausts, and sequential port fuel injection.