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Officer shortage takes bike cops off the street

I have been a delivery driver in Medford for several years now and have recently noticed a lack of cops patrolling the streets on motorcycles. Did the Medford Police Department pull the plug on its motorcycle fleet? The summer months are usually when I see these officers, but not this year.

— Donald R., Medford

The Medford Police Department has not scrapped its motorcycle fleet, but it has been put on an extended hiatus this summer, according to Lt. Bob Hansen.

The issue is a staffing problem, Hansen said.

"We have had to pull officers off the motorcycles and put them in patrol cars because we are short- staffed right now," Hansen said.

Motorcycle cops focus primarily on traffic issues such as speeding and accidents. This frees up patrol units in cars to cruise the streets arresting bad guys and taking them to jail, Hansen said.

However, when the department is understaffed, it is important to have as many patrol cars on the road as possible, Hansen said.

"You can do more things in a patrol car, like transporting people to jail," Hansen said. "Plus the cars have computers and other equipment officers need."

Because of the staffing shortage, patrol units often don't have time to swing by a motorcycle stop and take someone to jail.

Hansen said some of the motorcycle officers have used overtime to monitor traffic and handle accidents.

The department hopes to hire five or so new officers soon, which will free up the motorcycle officers, Hansen said.

"We want to get them back on the road as soon as we can," he said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.