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Posted on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Ann Arbor to buy and scrap 2 Harley Davidson motorcycles wrecked by police in training

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor is spending $28,000 to purchase and scrap two Harley Davidson motorcycles after city police officers wrecked them during two separate training exercises.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve the purchase of the two damaged bikes. City officials said they'll be sold as scrap now.

The bikes are part of a group of four police motorcycles being leased by the city from Vehicle City Harley Davidson of Flint.


Police Chief John Seto said it's the police department’s intention to maintain a fleet of four motorcycles.

Ryan J. Stanton |

City officials said they were damaged beyond economical repair during two separate training exercises. The estimated repair costs were $14,053 and $13,346, respectively.

Vehicle City Harley Davidson leased the four motorcycles to the city for two years starting in April 2011 at a cost of $1,800 per motorcycle per year. The agreement included an option allowing the motorcycles to be purchased at the end of the lease for $14,500 per motorcycle.

Thomas Gibbons, the city's financial analyst for the fleet and facility unit, said the company agreed to waive the second year lease payments and reduce the purchase price to $14,000 per bike.

With the anticipated revenue from the scrap sale and the waiver of the second year of the lease payments, Gibbons said, it works out better for the city financially to purchase the two motorcycles and sell them for scrap than to pay for repairs and try to return them at the end of the lease.

Funding for the $28,000 purchase is coming out of the police department's budget. Proceeds from the scrap sale and funding from an insurance fund will be used to partially offset the expense.

Matt Kulhanek, the city's fleet and facilities manager, said it's hard to say what the scrap value might be but he guessed maybe $5,000. He said insurance will cover the full amount of the city's costs, less the revenue from the scrap sale and a $1,500 per vehicle deductible.

Police Chief John Seto said accidents involving the police department's motorcycles are rare. He said the department's motorcycle program has been in place for many years and the most recent program with the use of Harley Davidson motorcycles goes back to 1999. Until the two recent incidents, he said, there had been no other accidents requiring any major repairs.

Seto said the first accident in May involved a veteran police officer receiving advanced training in motorcade escort at a Michigan State Police training facility.

He said the police department often is asked to provide escorts, such as during presidential visits, and advanced training is required for officers to work with state police and Secret Service.

The second accident in July involved a newly selected motorcycle officer who was being trained and prepared by one of the department's in-house motorcycle instructors. Seto stressed that sufficient training is necessary for safe operations during patrol and special details.

Seto said neither officer involved was driving recklessly or reprimanded, but one of the officers was injured in one of the accidents and placed on "light duty" for a while.

The police department has protocols in place whereby all police accidents, including those involving motorcycles, are reviewed by a supervisor and a crash review board. If an officer is found at fault, a personnel complaint is initiated and discipline can include driver refresher training.

Seto said the riding season is over, so the two damaged bikes will not be replaced until the next riding season. He said it's the police department’s intention to maintain a fleet of four motorcycles.

"It just provides versatility in our patrol operations," he said. "They're used for patrol functions just like a regular vehicle and they're use for special detail. They're great to have."

Additionally, Seto said, the department's motorcycle unit is reviewing other options for police motorcycles that might be safer to operate.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

How about one of these bikes??


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

go to youtube and search " police motorcycle" rodeo and stuff along that lines. When you pick your jaw up off the ground realize that this is the kind of stuff that these motor-officers are learning in their basic and advance training courses. A wreck or two is not that far out of the realm of possibility. Once you watch some of the vids you will realize that there are millions of people in the world that could not WALK the courses these guys are doing on large motorcycles, with out crashing. Stuff like this is very much a walk mile in my shoes kind of thing, lol

Frustrated in A2

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 6:47 a.m.

Those are awesome videos. Philadelphia PD has an awesome police motor cycle rodeo squad.

Boo Radley

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

jjc you hit the nail on the head. I hope others will take your advice and watch the videos, and then they will understand. The first thing motor officers are taught in training is the correct way to pick the motorcycle up off the ground by themselves .... because before they complete the training, they will have to do that A LOT.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Sounds like a folksy Rich Kinsey anecdote about that time police (in non-emergency situations no less) cost taxpayers a bunch of money and no one was held accountable. Are cops held accountable for their actions--ever?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Hey, I'm just happy no one was hurt in the accidents.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

If I remember correctly, there is a company in town that retro-fits motorcycles to run as battery operated smogless "e-hogs" With Toyota Research right here, the Energy Commission could try to inspire new Dingell-supported development for cutting edge Tesla cruisemobiles for our men and women in blue (and red, too. Maybe even a couple of green e-limos for the visionary City area Reps.). Why, leaders here could promis their fellow e-citizens. "A Tesla in evey garage. And a charger in every lot".

A A Resident

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

There are inexpensive cars which get better fuel economy, and have lower emissions than a Harley. I'm with you on bicycles though.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

Being a green-city Ann Arbor should buy more motorcycles, Harley "Trikes", mopeds, and bicycles, Seeing an officer roll up next to cars on a clean, rumbling Harley, makes drivers much more attentive to the other motorcycle riders in town - for some reason. Carelessly dumping a bike for fun is unacceptable. Learning its operatiional envelope to become a professional rider in adverse situations will result in training accidents. Sad to read about the two machines. Glad to read there are no major human injuries. Ride on !


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:32 a.m.

Abe, It was a local LE agency. We were positioned all around the field house and the Trooper pulled out of the line of approximately 40 or so bikes. He started doing figure eights and other maneuvers, and crashed infront of everyone.

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

Abe, that is the concern. I'm sure there is more to this. The blue shield silences all.

Honest Abe

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Ah, Got ya. Hey, pretty cool we both were there though, and saw the same thing. Regarding this article, it upsets me that so much money is wasted or spent when it did not need to be. I am a huge police supporter, and I have made many comments on here in the past regarding stupid spending or silly expense that unexpectedly came up, when we could fund more police and fire. I also know for fact that not just any officer can just hop on a motorcycle and start patrolling. It requires experience on a bike and a cycle endorsement, I'm sure. It is not like these bikes were intentionally purchased so they could be crashed up for training purposes. These bikes were tore up when they did not have to be. Therefore money now has to be spent, whether it is a deductible or outright buying 2 bikes. Either way, the taxpayers are footing the bill. It is frustrating when I, just like anyone else, pay: property taxes, income taxes, sales tax, fuel tax, and all the other taxes, only to see it wasted. I do think blaming the damage due to "training exercises" may be sugar coating it a bit. I have seen officers straight up hot dogging those bikes before, and not treating those bikes as if they were their own. I actually own and operate a decent sized company, and I know mistakes happen, but I also know when something was/is preventable. We'll find out why something was damaged and see to it that it does not happen again. If it keeps up - That person will receive their walking papers.

An Arborigine

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

"He said the police department often is asked to provide escorts, such as during presidential visits, and advanced training is required for officers to work with state police and Secret Service." Exactly what sort of "duty" is required of the officers providing "escorts" for secret service?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:46 a.m.

You have to be willing to "take one" for the team.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

I agree that "scrap out" is wrong usage here. Maybe sell for parts or to a salvage yard. Scrap value on these bikes is likely about $75 dollars a piece or less


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

It appears that the story is a bit of a non-event. Two bikes were damaged -- an anomaly, to be sure -- and the City is out the insurance deductible of $1500 each. (When I last had a company car, the deductible was $2000 and would have been mine to pay if the accident were determined to be my fault.) Motorcycle patrols do offer advantages over squad cars -- perhaps we should ask Rich Kinsey to weigh in on that question....

Dog Guy

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

If you don't crash a motor every so often, it isn't advanced training.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.

Not to " dis " the interm chief but oz had Harlry's back in the 50's and 60's ..three wheeler " serv-a-cars " used to chalk tires for parking enforcement....


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

Like motorcyle cops, mounted police can also go where cars can't. But nearly all horses are smart enough not to crash in training. Just sayin.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

The problem with horses is they can't keep up with the limousines.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

Angry You can take that to the bank!

Angry Moderate

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

I wouldn't be surprised if maintaining a horse costs a lot more than maintaining a motorcycle.

A A Resident

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Andrew, an $1800 per year lease actually isn't bad for a Harley. Add something like $1000 for scheduled service, and maybe another $1000 for tires and installation (both depend on miles driven, tires are generally good for about 5000 miles, and installation involves a lot more labor and expense compared to car tires). I pay about $150 per day to rent a Harley when my wife and I want to ride together on separate bikes. Harley comes in near the top though when it comes to promotional skills. I'll guess that they're losing money on the Cop bike leases, but more than make up for it with image. Like, "Why would government entities have these bikes if they weren't really really good?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.

$1800 per year must be a typo, right? More like $180 per month?

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

All those "experts" certainly seem to have trouble wrecking motorcycles during "routine" training. Why, if things get any more "expert", I hate to think what might happen. All that, and nobody was at fault? Is this a normal rate of property destruction, requiring no corrective action? The sort of thing we should just accept on an on-going basis? Is there a video? If not, why not? You know, for training purposes. Reminds me of when Deputy Fife bought himself a motorcycle.

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:08 a.m.

You make it seem like these are the only 2 accidents to ever happen in the world. Do you suggest giving the officers the death penalty and disbanding the whole department???


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

Ron Read the article and you can answer your own question! Police Chief John Seto said accidents involving the police department's motorcycles are rare


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

We get it. You hate and mistrust police. Why would you need to see a video of a officer crashing a bike in training? I'm guessing by your previous post, just for your own amusement.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

Is there no vehicle insurance on these. Isn't that the law in this state?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

There's no requirement for insurance that covers collisions/repair damage just liability

T Wall

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

Maybe I'm off on my math but I think the city is spending $3000 to pay off the wrecked motorcycles. Of course this doesn't sound as interesting as 28,000 but then again ...

Top Cat

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

The City should seize the opportunity and hire someone who is not an American citizen to turn the wrecked bikes into public art.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.


Honest Abe

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

In 1996, I went to Bowen Field House at Eastern Michigan University to see President Clinton deliver a speech. I will never forget that prior to going inside, there was a line of us going through security checkpoints outside, when we noticed some members of the WCSD on their motorcycles goofing off in the parking lot (President Clinton already arrived). After a few moments of observing the deputy being a clown, sure enough, the motorcycle got away from him and was heavily damaged. Want to take a guess on who originally paid for that bike? Want to take a guess who paid to fix/replace it? That's right - Us, the taxpayers. That deputy thought it was the funniest thing in the world too. I'll never forget that stupid smirk on his face.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

Abe......It's obvious you know nothing about law enforcement.Anything that is not the norm ie: " events " is considered a detail

Honest Abe

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

I stand corrected on which agency it was. What 'detail' did you work for? if you don't mind me asking? But nonetheless, a law enforcement office crashing a public owned police motorcycle, while working the Presidential Motorcade was unprofessional and costly. Plus, back to this article. A bike officer should be able to ride their bike without damaging it in most cases. I am a rider too and have been since the 60's. Even if the insurance is covering this, guess who is paying those premiums? You got it, the taxpayers.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

Abe, I was working that detail and watched that bike go down. It was actually a MSP Trooper from the Detroit post. You are right, he was goofing off and put it down in the middle of the other bikes.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

Wait till spring. Can't ride in the snow. Collect interest on the money. But that might make to much sense

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:06 a.m.

The article said they are waiting until the spring.

Erik L.

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

And the purpose of having motorcycle police is........?


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

They can split lanes and move through traffic jams if necessary.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

So they can escort the President when he comes around once every 25 years.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

They're cheaper than squad cars.

A A Resident

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

Why Harley Davidsons, instead of something less expensive, faster, better quality, more reliable, less expensive to repair, and lighter, so there's less chance of getting hurt if the rider goes down? And this retro air-cooled design is prone to overheating when moving slowly or stopped, as in parade escort duty. I'm a Harley rider, but let's not pretend this is the best motorcycle for that job. If cops need ride a certain brand to be cool, they can do it on their own dime, not mine.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:02 a.m.

Normally government agencies go out to bid for needed equipment, the specifications are spelled out, and qualified companies bid and guarantee the product will meet specs. I'm assumiiing AAPD did this, if not, they should be doing it. 1,800.00 per year per bike sounds like a pretty good deal to me so American made Harley knows how to compete to win businesss. It is a world economy now.

Boo Radley

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

The Harley-Davidson "retro" design you mention has been serving American police officers for over 100 years. I would have a problem with our local law enforcement agencies using motorcycles from foreign companies, just as I would have a problem if they were using foreign patrol cars. ... Notice I said foreign companies, and not foreign made. I don't care where they are manufactured. I also don't care about the "but these are better quality, more reliable" argument. Bigger and more complex economic issues are at stake. Yes - the Harley is the best motorcycle for the job.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

A A.........I didn't say they were better I was just saying they were American made..I mean lets face it if quality was the only criteria there wouldn't be many US made police cars

A A Resident

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

My replies seem to be going in the wrong section today, for reasons unknown I'll attempt again to reply to the subsection of my earlier post. TDW, a buddy of mine has two or three Victorys (Polaris). He also has maybe 20 Japanese bikes. His conclusion is that the Jap bikes are a whole lot better. Going point by point on the various merits and technology, I'm not in a good position to argue with him. The sound off a Harley is almost something which needs to be learned from experience, to notice the difference between Harley and the knockoffs. Yes, Harley has attempted to trademark their sound. Hondo, remember the "Chips" TV show? Kawasakis. I brutalized those Kawasakis for many years, and found it hard to hurt them. no matter how hard I tried. Nothin' major against Harley. That's what I own right now, Just got to take everything into consideration, and be aware of why you're making that choice.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

your right BMW s are cooler..... Thats your two choices Harley or BMW. The only bikes designed for this pupose. They are called "police edition" and have been altered slightly for such duties. Including but not limited to, different air cooled system, suspension, drive trains. Kinda like there are only certain models of patrol cars, The are special packages that are beefed up for the abuse a patrol car endures. Not sure if Honda Kawasaki or Yamaha have any such ability to produce a bike that is a suitable for the task of a patrol or escort vehicle.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

A A Resident.....Other than Polaris Harley is the only US made motorcycle.It might be the reason maybe ? I don't know

Andrew Kerr

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

Good point. You'd think HD would be happy to provide the bikes for free, and repairs at-cost or even free. If not, you'd think someone else would. Or a local bike shop could step in and offer to foot the cost for the good PR - shoot, it is better exposure and cheaper than a radio ad!


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

Kind of a non story, since insurance is covering the city cost? Things get wrecked when training. Happens all the time. No one was seriously hurt. Not sure why you wouldn't train on used equipment though. Might want to think that one through, next time.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

Non-story? Why's that? I read it. You read it.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

Insurance premiums aren't random numbers.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

You train on the equipment you expect to use during a real-life situation. I doubt there are many used police motorcycles for sale.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

Seto said the first accident in May involved a veteran police officer receiving advanced training in motorcade escort at a Michigan State Police training facility. Darn those limos!

Honest Abe

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

Nice job AAPD. (Not)


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Are they gonna scrap them or ( God for bid doing the smart thing ) part them out ? And did the people that wrecked them even have experience with motorcycles ?

Ann English

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

I don't like the word 'scrap' used to mean 'salvageable parts'. We kept one car for parts, decades ago, using its tires and one door for other cars. "Scrap" implies not just a mere piece of material not in a usable shape for anything, but something for VERY temporary use.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

Bear...I did miss the $5,000.But it did just say one was a veteran and another was a newly selected officer.I was just wondering about their off duty experance


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

did you just skim over the article or what? You answers lie in the article itself. Also, I believe the 'scrapping' of the motorcycle would include salvageable parts or else they wouldn't get about $5,000 per bike. A little common sense goes a long way.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.