Darryl Forte gets revved up about his job as police chief in Kansas City, and his personal Harley-Davidson has a lot to do with it.
Forte believes he’s on the short list of U.S. police chiefs who rides a motorcycle as part of his official duties. He’s been seen rolling up on crime scenes on his 2014 Harley, and he commonly rides the city’s streets either on that personal motorcycle or his department-issued one.
Forte, who first started riding motorcycles when he was 15, often stops and chats with residents during such rides, listening to their stories and hearing their concerns about neighborhood safety. He calls it “really liberating.”
“I just love being free and not using your own power to get around,” he told The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2fVOBAr ). “You can see a whole lot more being out there; smelling the smells, seeing people directly without windows and things like that.”
“I think they think that it is a good thing to see me out in the public,” added Forte, who has lost count of the number of motorcycles he’s owned but knows he’s had three Harleys. “I just like the sound a Harley makes. People know when you are coming.”
A lot of times, it’s the sound of Forte hitting the open road for pleasure – sometimes for a weekend trip alone to Arkansas, other times to local sites.
“Every place I can ride my motorcycle, I go,” he said.
It hasn’t always been smooth. Forte said he has been in at least three motorcycle wrecks – in 1983, 1989 and 1992, he said. He’s had plastic surgery to repair a damaged upper lip, and he has broken ribs and torn ligaments.
Taking motorcycle classes two years ago helped him improve his riding skills and bolstered his confidence.
“I thought I could ride, but I didn’t know the proper technique,” he said. “I feel a lot more confident after going to motorcycle school. I am still cautious, but I am a lot better rider. I am not cocky or arrogant, and I ride according to my ability.”
Last summer, Forte had to put in extra work convincing a group of neighborhood boys that he was the city’s top cop after he pulled up on his personal Harley to a scene where a man had refused to surrender after attacking a neighbor.
Forte, dressed at the time in civilian clothes, recalls that the boys on bicycles “didn’t believe that I was the chief because they had never seen a police chief in their neighborhood before. They really didn’t know who I was.”
Forte ended up showing the boys his police badge and other identification to convince them.
And on he rides.
“I don’t drink and I don’t party, so this is my therapy,” he said. “When I ride I don’t think about anything that is controversial or anything that bothers me, so riding is very therapeutic and this is what I do in my free time.”
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