Early Police Communications

Pictured above is an early 1930's ('31-'33) Harley-Davidson VL police model.  The main feature that separates it from the civilian models is it's one-way radio system.  The radio receiver is mounted on the rear luggage rack and is then connected to a speaker mounted under the gas tank.  A megaphone is attached to the speaker which not only amplifies the sounds, but also redirects it up to the top of the gas tank.  This set up allowed the police officers to receive audio messages from the dispatcher.  It would be some time before two-way radio systems became small enough to be mounted on a single motorcycle.  Due to their larger size, the first police motorcycles that received two-way radio systems were Servi-cars.

The image below shows a similar model VL, but notice this motorcycle also has a couple other police extras.  On the front fender you can see a large siren mounted off to the left side and there is an additional spot light mounted to the handlebars.  You would expect that these options would be standard issue on all police motorcycles, but that was not the case.  Often motorcycle police were not only responsible for maintaining their motorcycle, but also had to purchase any additional equipment (lights and sirens) out of their own pocket.  This meant that many early motorcycle police relied on hand signals to indicate to motorists that they needed to pull over.