TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (AP) — Police Chief Tony Logan recalls the unmistakable sound of the Harley-Davidson patrolling nearby when he was growing up.
The 1974 Tuscumbia Police Department motorcycle was a regular scene in the city during those days, with Officer Ray Poston typically the one seated atop it.
“I remember when I was a kid and Mr. Poston was a motorcycle officer,” Logan said. “You could hear it coming a mile away, and all of us kids used to love checking it out. That was a way for us to get to know him. Even before community policing was a term, that’s what they did with that motorcycle.”
Earnest Bechard also has fond memories of a Harley-Davidson police motorcycle, although his was of an older model. Bechard was a Tuscumbia police officer who was on motorcycle patrol during his years as an officer from 1960 to 1963.
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That’s why he was thrilled when Logan started discussing restoring Poston’s motorcycle as a department keepsake when he became chief some 10 years ago.
“I didn’t even know where it was,” Bechard said. “They found it in the back of the jail. They hadn’t ridden it in a long time, and Tony wanted to get it back together. It wasn’t in any running shape. We got it out and it’s been over a period of time that it got repaired.”
Bechard and the Natchez Trace Harley-Davidson dealership agreed to restore the motorcycle. It was a tedious job at times that involved searching for hard-to-find 1974 parts.
Many parts had been damaged when the bike caught fire years ago, so it took time to replace everything.
Today, it looks to be in perfect condition. Bechard recently had the honor of revealing it to the public during this year’s Tuscumbia Christmas Parade.
“It’s the same old feel on it,” he said. “It’s a good old motorcycle. I really enjoyed riding it.”
The motorcycle still has its original MUN 360 license plate, and they even found red and blue lights to add to the bike’s appearance.
“I’m going to find a siren for it so next time we’ll have that to raise a little racket,” Bechard said.
Logan said he was glad Bechard was able to be the one riding the motorcycle when it was revealed during the parade.
“It was a good way to recognize him,” the chief said. “He’s an awesome person and awesome Tuscumbian. It’s always been a dream of mine to get that motorcycle fixed up. We finally got it.”
Bechard said it feels good to once again see that blue bike with the “Tuscumbia Police” insignia across the windshield.
“It’s a good keepsake for the police department,” he said.