Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: America's Dairyland
Living in the veritable shadow of the Orange-and-Black Mothership, it's highly unlikely you'll ever find a motor unit in our state that doesn't run HDs (with the exception of some DNR units that have to patrol off-road trails).
There are a lot of reasons Harley dominates the US police motor market: availability of local dealers, a buy-US mentality, comfort for all-day riding, and more. But in my opinion the main driver is budgetary. Often, HD will lease fully outfitted bikes to departments for ridiculously low dollars. Then, after the lease is up, the departments have the option of buying the used bike at below-market levels. For many departments, often cash-strapped, this makes good financial sense.
That being said, I have certainly started seeing other brands making in-roads. I've personally seen motor officers on BMWs (K1600s and R1200RT-P), Kawasakis (Concours 14), Victorys (RIP), and even an Indian. Harley is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as struggling these days, and that's causing their competitors to pounce.
Based on my experience in both the motorcycle and police worlds, these are the reasons why I feel a bike like the DL650 makes great sense as a motor unit:
Yes, I've seen the YouTube videos of gymkhana competitors, often motor officers, tossing 900-lb. cruisers around like they're trials bikes. But for the average motor officer, a smaller, lighter bike is going to be better-suited for daily use, especially if the environment is at all urban. Sometimes even lane-splitting on a fully-dressed HD is a non-starter.
2. Long-term cost
I think it could be argued that the up-front cost of something like a V-Strom could be made up over the long haul in savings from reduced maintenance, fuel, and repair costs.
3. Motorcycle gangs
No, not the 1%ers -- I'm talking about the dramatic increase in large groups of riders that hide their plates and that drive like idiots through a community. Most of these are on dirt bikes or sport bikes (and sometimes ATVs), and they frequently take off as soon as the police show up in their squad cars. Between the mix of restrictive pursuit policies and the fact that any halfway competent rider can usually outrun a 4-wheeled vehicle, they're rarely caught. Having more versatile bikes in a motor unit increase the chances of chasing these riders down and curtailing some of their behaviors. Cleveland OH had such a problem with it they added some KLRs to their motor fleet.
If it's a good day to wash the bike, it's a better day to ride the bike.