The Highway Patrol Bureau, which features marked and unmarked patrol cars as well as 26 motorcycles, patrols the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway within the police district. The Motorcycle Unit also has duties and responsibilities that take them across the entire County of Suffolk, from its most western border out to the north and south forks of the Island. They are also often times requested to support some of the smaller police department’s in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

In addition to speed enforcement, officers of the Motorcycle Unit enforce drunk driving laws and
regulations governing motorcycle safety. There are currently 8 police officers assigned specifically to the Motorcycle Unit and we had the privilege of interviewing the most senior member, police officer Angelo Todaro. Officer Todaro is nationally certified and recognized as a top instructor and trainer with an extraordinary amount of experience. He enjoys teaching police officers how to operate police motorcycles, ATV’s, and laser and speed devices, in addition to offering Academy instruction for courtroom testimony in traffic violation cases.

Officer Todaro started working for the SCPD on January 2, 1981 and transferred to the Highway Patrol Bureau on Oct 11, 1982. He was trained and joined the Motorcycle Unit in 1987. Today there are 26 motorcycles on the road and about another 20 officers within the department who are trained and qualified to operate police motorcycles. In addition to the 26 motorcycles there are 5 that are used for training purposes only.

The average pass rate during motorcycle training is only 50%. The training is rigorous and recognized for its excellence. In fact, the SCPD Motorcycle Unit trainers are often requested to train other departments throughout the metro area, including Freeport, Hempstead, Port Washington, and even Danbury Connecticut.

The Motorcycle Unit is dispatched and responds to every major incident and tragedy in the region. “We were assigned to the site of the 800 Flight crash and spent over a month there doing active search and recovery. We were sent to lower Manhattan on September 11th and were called to respond to the wildfires in West Hampton last year. It is very different from the other unique functions we provide, such as VIP and funeral escorts, security at large outdoor concerts, parades, firework displays and other large events such as the US Open in Shinnecock.”

image3Officer Todaro explained the advantage that motorcycles provide in police settings. Motorcycles smaller size and nimble movements enable them to patrol the perimeter, getting in and out of crowds and tight spaces that cars cannot.

The Highway Patrol officers conduct periodic motorcade escort training exercises along the South Fork of Long Island in preparation of anticipated dignitary visits to the Hamptons. You never know what high-profile elected officials, presidential candidates or just possibly, the British royal family will be arriving to spend time on Long Island. A mock-up of actual routes that have used before has ensured smooth arrivals for visits by the Clintons, Obamas, the Windsors and other dignitaries.

Vice President Joe Biden has vacationed in Southampton Village in recent summers and again just last week. “We called in an additional 5 motorcycle officers who provided VIP escort and security service. It is easy for us to maneuver, stay close, manage crowd control and drive in the opposite direction when necessary.”

image2Officer Todara explained that although civilians are most interested in the VIP escort aspect of their job, their support at a Line of Duty Funeral fulfills more of their sense of purpose. “We have approval to travel with the motorcycles, on behalf of the Department within a 250- mile radius of the county. We typically send anywhere from 2 – 6 police officers to represent the SCPD. It is a privilege to honor our fellow police officers at funerals the Police Memorials in Albany and Washington DC. Through all the years that I have served in the police department, I am most honored and privileged to represent the SCPD and our fellow police officers when other departments in the Northeast or Mid- Atlantic region need our support. This has been the most meaningful part of my job.”

It was great to learn about yet another specialized unit in the SCPD and to meet an officer with such unique experience and expertise. Thank you Officer Todara for all you do to keep Suffolk residents safe.