Budget restrictions and the need to boost response to citizen calls has prompted the city police department to shelve its two-motorcycle traffic patrols.

The two officers assigned to the motorcycles over more than 21/2 years will return to squad car patrols with a primary duty to answer 911 calls and other emergencies, said Pekin Police Public Information Officer Billie Ingles Wednesday.

“Hopefully it’s a temporary thing,” Ingles said. “When we get manpower back up, we may reinstate” the motorcycle division.

It was the product of the Pekin Police Foundation, comprised of local private businesses, which in October 2014 provided $19,000 from donations to lease two Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycles for two years and pay for $4,000 in special equipment for their use.

With the expiration of the leases, the city decided to put the bike officers back in squad cars effective last Sunday, Ingles said.

“We need more manpower on the street handling calls on first and second shifts,” she said.

The return of the motorcycles marked the first time the city used them to patrol the streets since the 1960s, Deputy Chief Jim Kaminski said when the bikes were unveiled.

East Peoria’s police department and the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department are the only other two in Tazewell County to operate motorcycles.

Under the new city budget that took effect last month, the city police department is operating at two officers below its full 53-officer capacity. Two open positions have been left unfilled, as the city shifted two detectives to patrol to maintain that division’s full strength.

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