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Chapter 5

Motor Patrol

Motor patrols greatly assist law enforcement efforts on military installations, particularly those with extensive road networks.

In traffic control, motor patrols are used to:

  • Supply information, assistance and services.
  • Investigate traffic accidents.
  • Conduct traffic reconnaissance.
  • Provide traffic escorts.
  • Assist traffic control points (TCP).
  • Encourage voluntary compliance with traffic laws.
  • Enforce traffic regulations.
  • Deter crime.
  • Advantages

  • Provide greater area coverage
  • More people see and are aware of them
  • Greater communication capability
  • Quicker response time to emergencies
  • Disadvantages

  • Less personal contact with the public as opposed to foot patrols
  • Traffic congestion can affect mobility and response
  • Generally makes a less detailed inspection of an area than a foot patrol
  • Vehicle breakdowns and serviceability requirements
  • MP Vehicles

    MPs use a variety of vehicles to accomplish their traffic missions. These include autos, motorcycles, trucks and aircraft.

    The MP sedan is used for most installation traffic operations in CONUS and overseas areas.

    Motorcycles are very effective vehicles in congested traffic because of their maneuverability. They should not be used during periods of inclement weather or when violator speeds are excessive. Also, there is little cargo space for safety or service equipment.

    Scooters or three-wheel (service model) motorcycles possess the same favorable characteristics as motorcycles and should be considered for parking, law enforcement, and other traffic assignments in congested and headquarters areas. The attached carts provide space for safety, service and enforcement equipment.

    Vans and panel trucks offer size and configuration for transportation of large amounts of safety and special investigation equipment, as well as a comfortable and protected area for conducting on-the-scene interviews.

    Pickup trucks are particularly suitable for operations on ranges or in outlying areas where dirt and gravel roads are common.

    The quarter-ton utility truck is required for support of tactical unit training missions. The jeep is a versatile vehicle especially suited to off-road MP operations. It should not be used as a primary patrol vehicle for continuous operations on paved surfaces.

    Aircraft--fixed wing and helicopters--are useful for a number of traffic operations. These include:

    General traffic observation and control

    Traffic law enforcement

    Emergency medical evacuation

    Transportation of personnel and equipment

    Disaster and emergency operations

    Aircraft used in MP traffic operations should be equipped with identification markings; searchlight; multichannel radio receiver and transmitter; public address system; siren; and emergency medical equipment.


    Normally, motor patrols are comprised of two MPs--a driver and a rider. The senior MP is normally the rider; however, driving duties maybe alternated to avoid driver fatigue. There are two methods of mobile patrol. They are:

    Area patrol may include several streets, roads, etc.

    Line patrol is on a designated route between two points, usually on several heavily used connecting streets.

    Mobile Patrols

    Mobile patrols are useful in observing traffic flow, speed, possible congestion and in pursuing crime prevention activities. MP patrol vehicles should be driven in the right lane of traffic and should not exceed posted speed limits. The patrol which moves slower than the speed limit is able to better judge traffic and to observe the patrol area. Speeding creates a very poor public impression.

    Stationary Traffic Observation

    MP patrols also perform stationary traffic observation (STO) at selected places (an intersection experiencing a high accident rate or a location with chronic congestion problems) to deter and detect traffic violations. This procedure (STO) includes monitoring the speed of passing vehicles with speed measuring devices.

    The MP goal is preventive enforcement by encouraging voluntary compliance with traffic laws.

    There are two methods of STO--conspicuous and visible.

    Conspicuous--MPs endeavor to attract attention by remaining in full view of traffic with a marked vehicle.

    Visible--MPs locate in full view of traffic, but in a manner that requires some scrutiny by a motorist to be discovered.

    The most effective method of conducting motor patrol is a combination of stationary and mobile methods. The decision to move or to park should be based on known facts.

    For example, intersection "A" has experienced several accidents recently between the hours of 1600 and 1645, which have been caused by failure to yield. A stationary patrol may be effective at that time and location, and could provide a reliable source of information for traffic control improvements.

    While on motor patrol, MPs should be constantly alert for road and safety hazards such as:

    Radical changes in traffic, road, or weather conditions.

    Conflicts in the established traffic plan. Deterioration of the road network (potholes, oil slicks, etc.).

    Malfunctioning traffic control devices.


    Distinctive Markings

    MP vehicles used for traffic operations should bear distinctive markings to be readily recognizable and to increase the effect of their presence on potential traffic law violators.

    Placards bearing the words "Military Police" (bold black letters on a white background) should be placed on the front, rear and sides of each vehicle when possible.

    Emergency Signal Devices

    Patrol vehicles should be equipped with sirens, PA system, warning lights and the appropriate special equipment.

    Sirens (Audible Warning Devices)

    These may be mechanical or electronic.

    PM policy should specify, after appropriate legal research of jurisdictional statutes, whether or not the high-low and/or yelp sounds conform to the jurisdiction's statutes requiring other traffic to yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles sounding the warning.

    Public Address (PA) System

    A PA system should be part of the electronic siren set up. Appropriate verbal commands through the vehicle's loudspeaker are additional audible warnings which other traffic units are required to obey.

    The ordinary vehicle horn used with warning lights is a recommended practice. The horn produces a less startling sound and avoids disturbing other vehicle operators who are not the object of MP traffic enforcement.

    Warning Lights

    The lights can be red, blue, or red and blue, and must conform to local statutory requirements. Current law enforcement preference is for blue lights, or blue with a white light.

    Warning lights can be steady, flashing, alternately flashing on each side of the vehicle, or a combination of steady and flashing.

    The flashing of lights can be accomplished by interrupting the electric current (flasher unit); by a reflector that circles the light source; by several light sources with individual reflectors, all of which revolve; or by gaseous discharge lamps (strobes).

    Ordinarily, the higher the lights, the better their visibility. Warning lights mounted below the roof line are more likely to be obscured by intervening traffic units (as opposed to those positioned along the left and right sides of the emergency vehicle).

    Warning lights shining to the rear indicate a roadway hazard to motorists approaching the MP vehicle when it is halted on or near the roadway. Especially effective for high-speed roadways and rolling terrain are devices that can be raised well above the roof level and contain flashing warning lights and/or lights patterned to direct traffic to move left or right, away from an accident scene or obstruction.

    Other Equipment

    Patrol vehicles may also carry the following special equipment:

    Safety Equipment--portable lights, flares, traffic cones, fire extinguisher (dry chemical).

    First Aid--first aid kit, blankets.

    Tools--shovels, ax, crowbar, jacks, rope, wrenches.

    Service/Admin--area maps, report forms, directions, clipboard.

    Accident Investigation Kit--measuring devices, chalk, evidence containers, rope or chain.

    Spotlight--portable or roof-mounted (remotely controlled from inside the vehicle).


    Military Police may be called on to provide motor escorts for convoys, physical security reasons, VIP security, etc. The purpose of such escorts is to enforce traffic regulations and insure safe, law abiding movement. There are several methods of conducting motor escorts. The method used will depend on geography, resources and the purpose of the escort.

    Convoy commanders are responsible for general organization and procedures used within their convoys. Military Police are there to assist by accomplishing the following:

    Leading--The MP patrol vehicle leads the vehicle(s)--often emergency vehicles--and provides escort through intersections and congested areas.

    Leading And Following--A minimum of two patrol vehicles are used--one leading and one following-the escorted vehicles. The MP in the front vehicle dismounts at intersections/TCPs. They then remount and resume their lead position. The following patrol vehicle(s) keep the convoy closed up, render assistance, and provide security. Traffic congestion or the number of vehicles being assisted, may prevent the lead MP vehicle from regaining the lead. This situation will require the first escorted vehicle to lead the convoy temporarily.

    Empty Truck--A truck with Military Police precedes the convoy and posts MPs at designated locations to establish TCPs. An empty truck follows the convoy and picks up the MPs. Personnel should be numbered to avoid missing someone.

    Leapfrog--Additional Military Police in a patrol vehicle precede the convoy and post personnel at designated locations. When the convoy passes, the MPs remount and pass the convoy. The procedure is repeated as necessary. This method is particularly limited on narrow, congested, or mountainous roads. A modified leapfrog method uses more than one patrol to perform the mission. This method is very useful when TCP locations are close together.

    Perimeter--This method employs patrol escorts on all four sides of the escorted vehicles. The security provided can be expanded with additional perimeter rings.

    Route Influence

    A route selected for a convoy may pass through built-up areas, flat and open country, or probably a combination of both. As the area changes, the escort method is also changed. Prior to a movement off the installation, coordination is made with local law enforcement agencies who can assist the Military Police escort through congested and built-up areas, onto high-speed roadways. This assistance will reduce the need for TCPs at major intersections. However, unit guides and temporary direction signs are required to prevent loss of stragglers.

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