LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Police Department has gone electric – sort of.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports the LAPD has purchased three electric off-road motorcycles as part of a continuing effort to upgrade the department’s technological edge.
The sleek new Zero MMX electric motorcycles are being used as part of the LAPD’S fleet of off-road patrol units in more remote areas of the San Fernando Valley and Griffith Park, according to Lt. Andy Neiman.
Developed exclusively for military use in the U.S. Special Operations Forces by Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Zero Motorcycles, the MMX bikes cost roughly $17,945 without additional department modifications, compared with the approximately $35,000 for a fully-equipped LAPD Harley or BMW, officials said.
With an all-black ultra-light frame, the MMX is a different, somewhat sleeker look than the burlier gas-powered BMW and Harley Davidson motorcycles that the LAPD has traditionally used and costs about 46 cents to fully charge, according to officials.
Though the electric bikes – which can zoom to speeds of up to 88 miles per hour – are often used for racing, a range of less than 130 city and highway miles means officers likely won’t be heading on any lengthy chases or zigzagging far across town on them.
But Neiman says there are some definite advantages.
“One, there’s no fumes or exhaust going into the atmosphere, two, they’re able to sneak up on some of the homeless encampments and some of the illegal activities in the hillsides,” Neiman said. “And three, the community loves it because there isn’t that whiny noise that is commonly associated with the off-road bikes.”
The bikes take about seven hours to gain a full charge through a typical wall outlet, though using specialized equipment will bring charge time down by several hours, according to the Associated Press.
Such electric bikes are already used by a growing number of police departments across the country, from New York to Oregon, and around the world, including in Bogota, Colombia and Hong Kong.
According to Neiman, the technology has personally caught the eye of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who showed up last October at the Los Angeles Police Museum on one of the souped-up motorcycles.
“It’s just part of our ongoing looking to the future, looking at resources that are more economical and more ecologically friendly,” Neiman said.
Since the MMX has no exhaust fumes, police say theoretically the bike could be driven indoors during a chase, but not for very long: its battery only runs for two hours before needing to be plugged in again.
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