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Gloves are optional for police officers on motorcycles

What's up with Medford Police Department motorcycle officers just riding a motorbike in a uniform shirt and no gloves? Don't they have a policy that requires them to wear protective gear? The chief says he does everything to protect his officers. They get armored vehicles and bulletproof vests. What do these motorcycle cops get? 

— Hans, Medford

You'd think that if riding gloves were good enough for Ponch and Jon, they'd be good enough for Medford's motorcycling finest. In reality, there are many factors that determine what protective riding equipment an officer wears in the field says Sgt. Don Lane, who oversees traffic at the Medford Police Department.

"Gloves are optional," Sgt. Lane said. "Some officers wear them, some don't." 

Lane explained that riding gloves and jackets provide abrasion protection to knuckles and palms in the event of an accident, but motorcycle officers on duty in Medford generally travel at low speeds, and wearing cycling gloves and jackets can limit mobility.

"When you're working on a bike, getting off, and doing any type of duties, it's really cumbersome to have all that protective equipment,"  Lane said.

 He explained that motorcycle officers are required to wear the same ballistic vests and uniforms as other Medford police officers, plus an ODOT-approved helmet as required by Oregon law for all motorcyclists. In the winter, officers tend to layer up with more gear, but the riding gear is always available.

"If (an officer) wanted additional protective equipment, we would get it for them," Lane said.

That protective gear can also weigh officers down when they're pursuing a suspect on foot.

"We might be required to chase somebody," Lane said. "It's better to be without it."

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.