AUGUSTA, Maine — A small, new Maine State Police motorcycle unit that began with an “out of nowhere” request from former Gov. Paul LePage nearly a year ago will be rolled out formally in April.
Without legislative approval and using $171,000 in existing funds, the Maine State Police bought six motorcycles toward the end of 2018, along with trailers for the new unit, which will largely be used part time for ceremonial purposes and to promote recruitment with limited operational use that could include work at parades and other congested scenes.
Motorcycles were the first mode of transportation for the state police. The first three officers who died in the line of duty for the agency were killed in motorcycle crashes and the first 46 cars purchased by the agency in 1936 were traded for 47 Harley-Davidsons and 25 sidecars. The state police auctioned off its last motorcycles in 1954, according to an online state police history.
At least two Maine departments — South Portland and Scarborough — have motorcycle units, as do all other New England state police departments except Vermont. It’s a small amount of money for the Maine State Police, whose annual budget stands at $60 million. But the unit was established quietly under LePage by reallocating funds, and the co-chair of the legislative panel overseeing police said she didn’t know about it this week.
At the end of his tenure in December 2018, LePage issued a tweet referencing the new unit. In response to questions about it in January, department spokesman Stephen McCausland said the motorcycles would be unveiled publicly at an April 12 state…