FORT WORTH - Fort Worth Police are using a new fleet of dirt bikes to expand their patrol capabilities.
Mayor Betsy Price and Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald helped unveil on Monday the new off-road motorcycles, which were donated to the department by the Tarrant Regional Water District.
Fort Worth Police say they are lighter and more maneuverable than traditional police motorcycles. They are street legal and can handle urban environments, but the department said they will primarily be used to patrol the Trinity River Trails, an 80-mile network of trails that spans the city and is used by thousands of people every week, including hikers, bikers and horseback riders.
"These bikes will help with safety," said Mayor Price.
Officer Mike Richey is one of the first to ride. He has served in the department for 23 years and said the new bike is unlike any he's had before.
"We've taken our street bikes off road before, and there's a limit to where they can go and what they can do," Ofc. Richey said. "We can cover a lot of ground in a hurry with these."
The eight motorcycles are all KTM 350 EXC-F's, provided by KTM of North Texas. Owner Todd Tarver said the manufacturer primarily sells to sport customers, and that Fort Worth's delivery may be the first in use by law enforcement.
"This has been a project I've been wanting to do for years," Tarver said.
His shop designed and printed custom graphics for the new bikes, and another vendor equipped them with lights and sirens.
"We basically made them black and whites and put the police decals on them," Tarver said.
It's not the first time police departments have turned to unconventional vehicles to get the job done. Everything from Segways to gyrocopters to golf carts have found a place in different departments, and Fort Worth's officers believe that these bikes will play a big role in protecting the trail system.
"Police presence alone will really make citizens a lot safer out on the trails," said Richey.
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