Michigan State Police disband motorcycle unit for operational & safety reasons

Troopers will be reassigned to cars
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 18:23:04-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — It is a historic change for the Michigan State Police.  For generations, police have used motorcycles to patrol and respond to crimes. Now the MSP motorcycle unit is being disbanded. 

“I think it is a bad move,” said John Lott, a motorcyclist and concerned citizen. 

Lott says being a rider gives him the ability to see how motorcycles would be a tool for law enforcement. 

“Motorcycles can get into places where cars can’t,” he said. 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard was a motorcycle officer in Bloomfield Township for six years. He says motorcycles are historically a valuable tool in the Sheriff’s Office during community engagement activities, motorcades and events. 

“Certainly, at the Dream Cruise you can’t get anywhere and our motorcycles can split lanes to get to emergencies,” said Bouchard. 

He says he is surprised at the Michigan State Police change and it may mean local law enforcement agencies have to make adjustments. 

“There are times when we work very closely with them and those assets are in play so we will have to figure out how to pick up that slack,” Bouchard said. 

So why is Michigan State Police making the change? 

Michigan State Police 1Lt Michael Shaw tells 7 Action News a number of operational factors led to the decision.

Since 2015, four Michigan State Police Troopers have died in the line of duty.  Two of them, Chad Wolf in Clarkston in 2015 and Tim O’Neill in Kent County in 2017, were on motorcycles. 

Trooper Shaw says safety is one significant reason for the change. 

Sheriff Bouchard says there is a difference between the work deputies and troopers do. While troopers often work on interstates, for safety purposes the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Motorcycle Unit does not do traffic enforcement work on interstates. 

“I understand the danger that comes with it, but that is why we focus on where they have the best application and the best impact,” said Bouchard. “We live in a risky business.”