BOUNTIFUL – Motorcycle cops in Bountiful are going to be a little bit safer in 2013.
Thanks to a $1,600 donation from the Bountiful Rotary Club, the Bountiful City Police Department will buy airbag vests for the four police officers who ride motorcycles on patrol. Bountiful Rotary came up with the idea to purchase the vests, which have recently been introduced in Cottonwood Heights, and presented the idea to Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross.
“We normally focus on helping kids, and we initially asked if this was in line with the mission of our rotary club,” said Anne Wiese, president of the club. “Then someone pointed out that this would definitely involve children if Chief Ross has to go to someone’s door and tell them their daddy has been hurt. The decision was unanimous after that.”
The vests attach to the motorcycles via a ripcord. If a rider flies off the bike, the ripcord will be pulled and inflate the vest to protect the rider’s chest and neck. The four police officers will continue to wear their helmets.
“The motorcycle program has been a great help, but I can assure there were concerns when we started it a few years ago,” said Ross. “There are 30,000 cars on 500 South every day, which means there’s a definite risk there. Being able to do something to protect (the motorcycle cops) comforts me.”
According to Ross, former Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy spoke of an accident involving a motorcycle cop during his tenure as an assistant city manager in Arizona. The officer was killed, and Hardy was one of the people to visit the family.
Chris Simonsen, a member of the Bountiful Rotary, shared those concerns. He was the one who initially called Chief Ross about the vests after seeing a news report on their introduction in Cottonwood Heights.
“It wasn’t until I had a motorcycle crash as a teen that I realized how unprotected I was,” said Simonsen. “I see these motorcycle cops on the streets, and when I realized there was something protective they could wear I called the chief.”
Replacement inflation cartridges are available for the vests, which can accidentally inflate if the riders forget to untether themselves before getting off the bike.