LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Since November 11th, Sergeant Oscar Chavez’s office has had no windows or doors; his workspace has been a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
“When we got on them and rode them, I would say I had a smile from ear to ear,” he said.
Chavez is one-half of the University of Louisville Police’s new motorcycle pilot program. The two-man unit will patrol the campus on two wheels instead of four, getting to see the university from a different point of view. UofL Police Chief Gary Lewis has been working to make this idea a reality since he took over the 50-man force nearly a year and a half ago.
“Honestly we hear it often on how motorcycles give us our freedom,” Chavez said. “The freedom is having the wind blow by you, able to see more, hear more, a sense of freedom from the confines of a vehicle.”
The Department leased the two bikes from Harley Davidson for three years for a grand total of about $30,000. For comparison, Chief Lewis says one new patrol unit can cost about $40,000. Chavez and his partner will use them to cover every square inch of campus. Lewis says it makes officers more approachable.
“When individuals see two Harley’s riding around our campus, providing that high level of visibility, looking for traffic offenses, trying to reduce the number of potential crashes that are happening on our campus, that’s what this is about,” Lewis said.
The program is about more than just traffic tickets. The motorcycles can go places a normal patrol unit can’t. Lewis says in turn, that will cut down on response times.
“Any type of planning and you’re looking at resources that are available and what you can immediately deploy... absolutely," Lewis said. "This is something that we can add to that. We can add that response. You can look at it from a mobility perspective in navigating places where traditional motor vehicles cannot travel. So, I think it’s definitely a benefit.”
It’s a benefit some UofL students say they’re excited to see.
“Whenever they’re on a motorcycle, it’ll be a lot easier to tell them what’s going on and stuff like that,” Yasmean Fogle said.
"It feels nice that they’re trying to make us feel safe on campus,” Chris Milligan said.
Chavez says the department is taking more modern steps to make sure safety is the cardinal rule.
“[It’s a] community-oriented version of us being available to the public."