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John Nuthall


September 4, 2009

New York City Police Department motor cycle safety exercise at Floyd Bennet Field

The New York City Police Department’s Highway District will demonstrate the department’s motorcycle safety exercise on Friday September 4th at 12 noon at Floyd Bennett Field.  The safety exercise will be conducted by a Highway Patrol training instructor and will simulate the course offered to members of the service. Media wishing to attend the exercise should arrive at the Special Operations Division Headquarters by 11:30 a.m. and see a representative of DCPI. Yesterday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced that members of the service will be able to take NYPD motorcycle safety courses on department time at the discretion of commanding officers. Following is a press release regarding yesterday’s announcement.  

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Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced today that effective immediately members of the service will be able to take NYPD motorcycle safety courses on department time at the discretion of commanding officers department wide.

“In recent years, an increasing number of off-duty members of the service have been involved in serious and sometimes fatal motorcycle accidents,” Police Commissioner Kelly said. “We want to save lives and encourage safety by having members of the service avail themselves of the best training available. We already have it at hand through the NYPD Highway District and its superb instructors.” 

Since 2005, six off-duty members of the service have died while operating motorcycles, while others have been seriously injured.  Last night, an off-duty member of the service was involved in a serious motorcycle accident.  He narrowly avoided having his leg amputated and a metal rod was inserted during surgery. Another off-duty member of the service was seriously injured in a motor cycle accident in July.  He remains hospitalized with a fractured pelvis and other serious injuries. In April, another off-duty officer was killed when he was ejected from his personal motorcycle after colliding with an automobile.

“While the staffing requirements in any given command will still take priority, commanding officers now have the authority to designate anyone under their command who operates a motorcycle as his or her personal vehicle to attend the department’s one day course,” Police Commissioner Kelly said.

The department’s Motorcycle Safety and Familiarization Exercise (SAFE) course consists of three hours of classroom instruction followed by five hours of practical riding offered on the last Monday and last Friday of every month from 0600 to 1400 hours. Candidates for the on-duty instruction who posses a motorcycle endorsement on their New York State Drivers License will be asked to wear the appropriate attire including a U.S. Department of Transportation approved helmet, ankle type laced boots, eye protection and leather riding gloves. All sessions will be conducted by experience instructors assigned to the Highway District Driver Training School. 

Phase 1 of the course covers basic clutch and throttle control, breaking and how to conduct a proper pre-ride inspection.  Time is also devoted to avoiding hazards easily overlooked when driving a car – but that motorcycle operators frequently face including wet manhole covers, traffic stripes, steel plates, leaves, gravel and cobble stones.

Riders who successfully complete Phase 1 graduate to the progressively demanding exercises in Phase 2. 

Highway District Training Sgt. Joseph Murphy said, “The unfortunate truth is that in getting a motor cycle license, applicants are tested more for the rules of the road than actual skill. During the road test you ride in circles and figure eights and never go over 20 and 30 miles per hour.”

The NYPD course is significantly more demanding and aimed at honing skills for the safest operation possible.

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The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA) is the largest municipal police union in the nation and represents nearly 50,000 active and retired NYC police officers.