October 6, 1998
Apparently, I haven't told this one, and it is a list exclusive.
I didn't use it in the book because, though I heard three very similar versions of the same story from three of the motor cops, I couldn't confirm enough of the details that I felt comfortable repeating it for the record.
It could be total BS, or it could be essentially true. With that caveat, here goes:
One day, two Guzzi-riding motor officers stopped for coffee and donuts. Unbeknownst to the cops, the bank around the corner was being robbed. When the robbers came out and took off at high speed, the cops took off in pursuit, thinking they were just speeders.
As one of the cops pulled up close behind the speeding car, a robber leaned out the window and fired a bullet right through the windshield on the bike, striking the officer. Whether the bullet or the resulting crash killed the officer, I'm not sure, but after the incident, the LAPD quickly adopted a new standard for the shields on their bikes: They had to be bulletproof!
That said, LAPD was reasonable about the requirement, stating that when mounted at the angle it would be on a motor, the shield had to be able to deflect several of the common pistol rounds (one told me that it was the .38 Special, another the .357 Mag) when fired from a specified distance (30 feet, one said).
To meet the new standard and make some money, a company named Code 3 adapted the then-new impact-resistant plexiglass Lexan to police windshields and began marketing them to LAPD and other forces. (One cop told me Code 3 was started by a former cop and a former employee of ZDS Motors, the west coast Guzzi distributor, and that the company pioneered the use of electric sirens to replace the old friction-type.)
As with all things police, the new shields had to undergo testing. One cop told me they actually mounted the new shields to bikes and fired their service revolvers at the shield from the prescribed distance to see if they really would deflect bullets. To the cops' delight, the shields actually did as advertised.
Code 3 went on to make versions of their shield for Harleys and other bikes through at least the mid-seventies. Not sure if they're still in business.
If anyone has any more details on this story, I'd love to hear them.
Greg Field, Seattle, WA gfield at halcyon.com
1973 Eldo and 1986 LeMans 1000
I had always heard "supposed to stop a .38 at 25 feet". Very similar story.
Have been told by somewhere along the line, that former race car driver Dan Gurney had something to do with Code 3 as well, either that or something to do with the development of Lexan possibly. (Racing windshields??)
Code 3 still in business, marketing items for the emergency services industry. Think they are out of Texas somewhere. They have no knowledge of police bike windshields anymore however, at least in my chat with them.
CHEESEHEAD info at motoguzzi dot com
Flock o' Geese
From Sheldon: Cheesehead and Gordon run MG Cycle in Brooklyn Wisconsin (not NY). Check out their web site at http://www.mgcycle.com
N.B. Minor edits to original article Sept 2023. Ed.
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