Traffic violators and law breakers should be aware of a new silhouette on the horizon, as the Tehachapi Police Department has added two BMW motorcycles to its vehicle fleet.
Each year the city receives $100,000 from the state of California through the Supplemental Law Enforcement Services Fund. Chief Jeff Kermode presented the proposed spending plan to the City Council at its regular meeting Sept. 16.
"Under the founding legislation, it requires that this $100,000 be spent as a supplement to our budgeted general fund monies," he said. "So it cannot be used to supplant anything that is already in the budget."
According to the chief's report, the two bikes were purchased from the City of Taft for $6,000. The bikes have low mileage and are already outfitted with police equipment.
When asked by Mayor Phil Smith how much the motorcycles would cost new, Kermode said, "I believe they're in the $25,000 or $28,000 range, especially as you add on police equipment."
An additional $8,215 will be spent to refurbish the bikes and place Tehachapi graphics, while $3,932 goes to officer training and equipment.
Officer Scott Ketcham is already trained and equipped and has begun patrols on the BMW.
Another officer is scheduled to go through training and begin patrols on the second BMW soon.
"They won't be full-time motorcycle officers," Kermode said. "In the good weather, they'll handle their patrol duties from the bike."
He added that the officers will have the flexibility to go back and forth between the bike and a car, as appropriate.
Although the City Council did not approve the spending plan until Monday at its meeting, TPD had already purchased the motorcycles.
"The Taft Police Department was moving forward with their City Council to declare the motorcycles as surplus property and sell them," the chief said in an email. "In order to avoid potentially losing the deal to another agency, I obtained approval from our City Manager to 'borrow' from our budgeted equipment funds until we could move forward with the SLESF spending plan. The SLESF funds will now pay back the equipment fund so that previously budgeted items can be purchased."
City Manager Greg Garrett explained that such a procedure is standard.
"Sometimes we're required to make decisions on the fly," he said. "But we always want to follow up [with the City Council]. We certainly want to close the loop, always."
Garrett added that they try every year to be very dynamic in their spending of the SLESF money.
The chief budgeted the remaining money toward laptop mounting for two patrol vehicles, a rebuilt engine for the transport van, salary for part-time reserve officers needed during the summer and holidays, the patrol overtime account, and an allocation for a new officer salary.
The new position will be the 15th for the department and the chief called it the "AB 109 Officer." Some of the money for the new officer's salary will come from an AB 109 monetary disbursement from the state, intended to help provide assistance to local agencies dealing with more parolees since prison populations have been reduced.
Kermode said the decision on who will take the position is not final, but is expected to be solidified in mid-October.