INDEPENDENCE — Officer Lance Inman is the Independence Police Department’s first motorcycle officer.
He joined the department in November, and got the bike a couple of months ago from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for just less than $5,000, said Chief Bob Mason.
Inman wasn’t sure what to expect when he started traffic enforcement for IPD, but he says the response has been positive.
“I get a lot of waves,” Inman said. “I get a lot of ‘thank yous’ and ‘that’s refreshing.’”
Inman retired from the Keizer Police Department in October after 27 years.
“I was probably a motorcycle officer for 10 or 12 years, then I promoted up to the division lieutenant,” he said of his time at Keizer PD. “When I left, I was a support division lieutenant, and traffic was in my division. I’ve had some connection with traffic most of my career.”
Inman has known Independence Police Chief Bob Mason for about 20 years, he said.
“We used to teach reserve academy together,” Inman said. “I became acquaintances with some of the sergeants, too.”
He said after he left Keizer, he was offered the part-time traffic position at Independence.
“That was a pretty easy decision,” Inman said.
One of the challenges he’s faced in his position in Independence is trying to enforce traffic laws on two-lane roadways.
“Especially, with the police vehicles, the (Chevy) Tahoes, it’s very difficult to try to catch up to a violator when you’ve got two or three other cars that have pulled in behind him, without making a big scene, turning the lights on,” Inman said.
Conducting traffic enforcement on a motorcycle is easier, he said.
“I can easily reach the violator before too many cars get in between,” Inman said. “It’s easier to park safely, either off the road or on the shoulder, whereas you really can’t do that with a big SUV.”
The No. 1 goal is safety, he said.
“I don’t enjoy giving tickets,” Inman said. “It’s not something I look forward to, but I think in some circumstances, it’s the best way to achieve compliance.”
Still, he said, in more than half of his traffic stops he gives warnings, not tickets, to educate people.
“There’s a lot of out-of-state or even out-of-area drivers,” Inman said. “Monmouth is a college town, so you’ve got a lot of kids from all over the U.S.”
With Central School District schools in session next week, there are a few areas Inman will focus on.
That includes speeding cars and parking in bike lanes, especially at student drop-off and pick-up times.
Enforcement and education aside, Inman thinks it is important to interact with community members in different ways.
“I try to be at most of the community events,” he said.
The city’s Touch-a-Truck events, for example, give kids a chance to sit on the motorcycle and turn the lights on.
“That’s a lot of fun,” Inman said. “Any opportunity we can show kids we’re not just about enforcement, we actually do care and try to help people.”