Milwaukee Police Dept. has long history of riding Harleys

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- As bikers pour into Milwaukee from around the world for Harley-Davidson's 110th anniversary, the Milwaukee Police Department is gearing up to help direct all those bikes. 1903 is the year of inception for Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, and not long after, police stations from around the country began ordering bikes, and some of those didn't have to go far!

Officer Dennis Wallich is a 25-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department and has spent most of those years on two wheels.

"I have 19 years on the motorcycle unit," Wallich said.

MPD's Motorcycle Unit is one of the most highly sought after positions on the force. More than 50 riders are part of an elite group that has been with the department nearly as long as the inception of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle itself.

"Police motorcycles came out in 1908.  I think Detroit was the first department to get them. The city of Milwaukee got motorcycles in 1910, and we've used them continuously from 1910, until now," Wallich said.

Over the years, a lot has changed!

"You look at these motorcycles, and they look like bicycles with engines. We wear helmets now instead of just hats," Wallich said.

These motorcycles are a tool police are proud to use, as they are made in Milwaukee and represented by Milwaukee.

"We like to represent them when we are out on the job.  People from across the country are always flagging us down, wanting to talk to us, and looking at the motorcycles," Wallich said.

Though the bikes have changed through the years, the city has always provided top of the line bikes, built to help officers with their jobs.

"You got some extra switches up here in red for your siren, the air horn, for the red and blue lights," Wallich said.

Some of the features found on police bikes won't be found on the showroom floor.

"Another difference in the solo seat it's called.  It's specific to the police model. It's mainly for comfort, but obviously we don't take passengers on our motorcycles -- at least we're not supposed to anyway," Wallich said.

Police have also added their own technology.

"In the tour pack we have a bracket that has a laptop computer on it.  We unfold this, and we have a computer that we run people's names," Wallich said.

Wallich says the most common question he gets is whether the police department soups up these bikes, but he says there is no need. The power provided is plenty -- and the look is pure Milwaukee.