Three Smyrna Motor Officers Injured Last Month
The department is investigating what needs to be done to prevent future accidents.
Smyrna police report that in the past month three of their four motor patrol officers have sustained injuries on their motorcycles.
Cpl. Gene Crawford was struck by a vehicle earlier this month while he was on patrol. He sustained two broken ankles, a broken leg and a cracked hip in the accident.
About the same time, Officer Mike Montgomery was in an accident on Interstate 75 when he was on his way home from work. According to a witness, the roads were wet from recent rain and the rear tire came out from under the bike when it struck a lane-dividing line. Officer Michael Smith, Smyrna Police Department’s public information officer, said Montgomery will need surgery on his knee later this week.
The circumstances of Montgomery’s accident are similar to those surrounding Officer Steve Waldrop’s accident. On Monday, Waldrop was turning into a subdivision going about 15 miles an hour. His partner said the bike tipped over when his tire hit a lane-dividing line. Waldrop suffered a cracked elbow.
Smith said the department doesn’t think the accidents are a result of poor training.
“In the last six months we’ve actually increased the amount of training that our motor officers get,” he said. “It’s actually monthly that they get with Cobb County motor officers and they do group training. I don’t know specifically what different types of scenarios they do, but they do different scenario training and work on their skills.”
He said that mechanical failure was not a factor in the accidents, but that the department is continuing to look for “a common denominator.” Smith, who rides motorcycles recreationally, said lane-dividing lines can become slippery when they are wet or have debris on them.
Motorcycle officers are important to the police force for special details like funeral escorts and traffic enforcement, Smith said. A motorcycle officer can navigate traffic with great agility than an officer in a patrol car.
“It’s also a great community policing tool,” he said. “They’re more accessible to the public. They’re not confined inside a car. People can engage them. They can engage the community as well.”
Montgomery and Trey Stevens are now Smyrna’s only motor patrol officers on duty. Smith said it’s too soon to tell when Waldrop will be able to return to work. Crawford is still recovering and will be confined to a wheelchair for 10 weeks before he can undergo physical therapy to begin putting weight on his feet.