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Boot Cop

On the streets of the City of Philadelphia, there is the Boot Cop.


They wear tight britches; white helmets, crushed hats, black leather boots, double-breasted leather coats, and the basket weave Sam Browne Belt and Holster. They patrol the city in unmarked cars and full dress Harley Davidson motorcycles known in the Unit as a wheel.

There primary mission is to make Felony, Narcotics and Weapons Arrests. They hunt anywhere in the city where the brass says to go, to make an impact on rising crime.

They are always seen when necessary but seldom heard on the Police Radio except to ask for a set of numbers (which are incident case numbers) from Police Radio for an arrest. They can be pulled from anywhere in the city as an expeditionary force without effecting the current level of protection from the various divisions they patrol.

They are the elite of the Philadelphia Police; they are regarded both in and outside the Police Department as a paramilitary Unit, that salutes their superiors always in person and on the Radio with a Yes Sir, no questions asked. 

The mere presence of the Boot Cop often sends criminals on the run.

They are among the most highly motivated, who need little or no supervision. It is the most sought-after assignment in the department.

Known as Boot Cops, they are assigned to the Highway Patrol unit, whose headquarters were at Bustleton Avenue and Bowler Street for most of their history but now take up space at 330 E. Erie Ave.

Because they are called into major crime areas, a Boot Cop must have a good arrest and conviction record, must be aggressive, must have the balls to take down any situation without batting an eye and at the same time, be spit shined from head to toe.

There is a mentally strenuous but even more important side to the unit. They are always called to escort U.S. presidents and other dignitaries and of course the Police Funeral taking the honor guard position around the casket and the wheels with flags leading the procession. They also have the option to compete to become a member of the drill team who thrill audiences at parades and other functions with intricate maneuvers on their 800-pound Harley Davidsons.

All of Highway Patrol has escorted the motorcades of every President and any dignitary that come to Philadelphia, with the more experienced wheelmen and women as outriders who fly ahead on their wheels and cut traffic from going through intersections as the motorcades pass by and then leapfrog to the next intersection to continue the escort without incident.

There is also a tail car that follows the motorcade as the very last line of defense and which is normally occupied by a Secret Service Agent and a SWAT officer carrying the most sophisticated weaponry with the Boot Cop at the wheel. The tail cars' orders from the Highway Patrol Commanders are that no one gets past the tail car, not no way, not no how. Ramming is expected to stop any errant vehicle or person that slips by a division barricade.

Boot Cops have been a part of the Philadelphia department since 1930, with the formation of the Motor Bandit Patrol.

By 1940, the unit had made a name for itself nabbing bootleggers and mob figures and was expanded to include a machine-gun squad that rode in sidecars.

In 1954, the unit was renamed as the Highway Patrol. There were two parts to the Unit; the Line Squad who were responsible only to respond to crimes in progress, narcotics violations or VUFA (Violations of the Uniform Firearms Act) and the Expressway Unit who patrolled the Highways in Philadelphia called by the unit members as "the dirt road" (I-76) and its tributaries and "the slab" (I-95).  

Getting into the unit is extremely difficult - and getting out is inconceivable.

There is always a waiting list. Beyond the required two years of being an officer, the wait to get in is long, unless you are shot in the line of duty, recover, and under most commissioners are given the honor (should your record of arrests are outstanding ) of joining the unit if requested. This is sometimes called parachuting in by an outstanding situation.

Most who have earned the honor of being a Boot Cop do not readily seek a promotion because they most likely are transferred.

New officers undergo 40 hours of classes and riding instruction, although all later patrol in cars and on wheels. Everyone eventually aspires to get their own take home wheel but even in Highway Patrol there is a waiting list depending on the budget, which wheels are down mechanical and if the individual Boot Cop has made enough arrests to earn one, just as they have earned their wings, passing the Instruction course.  The additional purpose of being assigned a wheel is to motor around to all the different courts requiring their appearances as the schedule is 2 weeks of 6 PM to 2 AM (the high crime times) with one week of day work.

As part of being assigned a wheel, they are required to perform routine maintenance which also includes shining every inch of that wheel's chrome usually with a product called Mothers® Chrome Polish, aptly named because it is a real Mother painstakingly applying this polish to every inch of Chrome on the individual wheel, usually by using two fingers to get every nook and cranny.  Major work is done by specially trained mechanics at the police garage and assigned to the Unit.

Boot Cops do not intentionally ride in snow or on ice, but if it snows during their assignments, they are that meticulous in their assignments to take on the weather, one on one.

Boot Cops are assigned in pairs to jell with a partner for their time in the unit, especially for the night shift because they are at great risk being that the only shield around them is their uniform and reliance on that partner.

It's advantageous to show a high police presence in a high-crime area, the Highway Commander will send in several teams both on wheels and in unmarked cars. People seeing that unmarked vehicle stop and boots coming out of the opened doors, have caused unruly crowds to scatter without a word on the part of the boot cops. The same holds true in hearing the unmistakable sound of the powerful Harley Davidsons in a neighborhood where they are not usually found or heard.  

There's a psychological advantage. People see Boot Cops as professional, highly trained officers. They know what they are getting when they see a Boot Cop, the most fearless and yet professional keepers of the realm.


WGAw Registered


For Information on the Upcoming Book Contact Sparky@bootcop.com



Highway Patrol Pursuit during Gun Battle


Award Winning Authors Eriq LaSalle and Sparky
Reader's Chuice Awards


Tribute To George Craig, Philadelphia Highway Patr

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