If you are out on the highways this weekend, you will probably see a lot of motorcycles in the Lakeland area.
That’s not necessarily out of the ordinary – we have many residents and visitors who ride the Northwoods highways on their motorcycles.
However, you may also be seeing something unusual for the Northwoods – an influx of Wisconsin State Patrol motorcycle troopers cruising the area.
But they are doing much more than that, according to Sgt. Les Mlsna, a patrol officer out of Monroe County and the Tomah Post.
Mlsna said he and nine other officers from across the state are in the Minocqua area because of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G) rally being held in the area.
In fact, this is something the State Patrol does every year. In addition to patrolling during the H.O.G. rally, these law enforcement patrolmen also work the Tomahawk Fall Ride and another large ride each year in Sheboygan County.
Mlsna said he’s been a part of the motorcycle patrol for 19 years and has been to the H.O.G. rally for the past 10 years.
He also made it clear that their mission is more than to write tickets to other motorcyclists, cars, and trucks, but to incorporate an “educational component” to their visit.
In fact, the troopers had a special trailer on the grounds of the H.O.G. rally – a trailer that included simulators for riders to try out.
“We’re here raising awareness for motorcycles,” Mlsna said. He said those who see the law enforcement officers on their bikes also begin to take notice of all motorcycles on the roads in the area once they see the troopers.
“If they see us giving out tickets, they’ll start looking out for all the motorcyclists and wondering if they are police,” he said.
So, the goal of reducing crashes and other incidents involving motorcycles goes down with the troopers in the area.
“We also spend time talking to those in the motorcycling community while we’re at the [H.O.G.] grounds. We encourage folks to take rider education classes,” Mlsna said.
At the same time, the officers will also be spending the weekend engaging in enforcement action in and around the Lakeland area.
“The idea is to keep everyone safe,” Mlsna said.
While State Patrol motorcycle crews have been around in the state of Wisconsin since 1957, Mlsna said none are assigned to the Lakeland area.
In all, there are 14 motorcycles under the auspices of the State Patrol. Twelve of those bikes are in the field and two are part of the state dignitary protection service. “Those two are with the governor for protection,” Mlsna said.
In all, there are 25 trained troopers who are certified to ride the bikes, but they all take their turns on the 14 available bikes.
If so inclined to become a member of the elite group, troopers sign up for a two-week training session (80 hours). “It’s tough training,” Mlsna said.
The crews will be back in the Lakeland area for the Tomahawk Fall Ride, but will stay mostly in the Tomahawk area, as they have in the past.
In the meantime, the troopers will be in the Lakeland area through Saturday, Aug. 17.
Be aware of them and all motorcyclists as they make their way around the area.
Remember, as Sgt. Mlsna said, “raising awareness of all motorcyclists on the road and keeping everyone safe is our mission.”
You may reach Ray Rivard at firstname.lastname@example.org