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Bikes part of partnership with Huntington Police

Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:20 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas showed off two motorcycles Tuesday, both of which are gifts on loan to the Sheriff's Office from the city of Huntington.

McComas isn't a motorcycle enthusiast himself, but he celebrated the new additions saying they will add prestige to the Sheriff's Office and provide extra assets for dignitary protection, parades and special events. They were christened this past weekend with use in a parade celebrating West Virginia's 150th birthday.

"The officers are excited about it," he said. "It just increases the prestige of the department, if you will, to allow us to perform some different functions and services that we haven't been able to. It's a good thing."

The motorcycles, both of which are 2000-model Harley-Davidson Police Road Kings, were decommissioned by the Huntington Police Department, said its Police Chief Skip Holbrook. They had been regulated to use for training, and now are being provided to the Sheriff's Office at McComas' request.

A memorandum of understanding states both motorcycles will be returned to the city for public auction once their service to the county is complete, according to Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and Holbrook. Williams said the city will receive no financial benefit as the public auction would have been expedited had it not been for the sheriff's request.

McComas told news reporters the motorcycles may be utilized in some select traffic enforcement, however he said residents should not expect the same type of patrolling they see in the city. His agency's countywide jurisdiction is too broad and too rural for such patrols.

"It's probably not going to be a real good asset for us to use as a patrol vehicle," he said in noting the example of a deputy in Salt Rock being dispatched to a call at the Cabell-Mason county line.

Four deputy sheriffs completed the 80-hour training course necessary to become a certified police motor officer. It was conducted by members of the Huntington Police Department, and such a rigorous course that McComas said two deputies were not successful. He identified those who passed as Chief Deputy Doug Ferguson and Sgt. Michael Wentz, along with Deputies Paul Fields and James Johnston.

"Those will be the only four officers that will be riding these motorcycles," the sheriff said.

Acquiring the motorcycles came at no cost to the county. McComas estimated necessary painting, tune up and other associated costs between $4,000 and $6,000. He said fuel, maintenance and insurance costs should be minimal.

The transaction leaves city police with an inventory of six motorcycles. That includes two motorcycles from 2000, two from 2011 and one each from 2008 and 2009. Williams and Holbrook said the newer models replaced those now being transferred to the Sheriff's Office.

McComas said the transfer works because of past cooperation between his agency and the city. That includes the county acquiring off-road motorcycles for the city, as well as it providing it cruisers in previous years.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.