When was the last time you were pursued by 40 motorcycle cops, lights on, sirens blaring — and never got a ticket? Well, it happened to me.
Actually it was at Streets of Willow at the first ever Motor Officers Advanced Training CLASS. Nearly a year in the works with myself and Lt. Ti Goetz of the Hawthorne (CA) PD and it turned out to be a really big one for the books. A most rewarding experience for me and for each officer in attendance.
Motorcycle Cops do a lot of training, but I have come to find out it tends to be generally low speed parking lot training. We’ve all seen how well they can turn those huge bikes in tight situations. Great control and it has a definite place in around town traffic situations. But when the call comes in that gets the throttle twisted hard, those skills are not as useful. The HPD recently lost two Motorcycle Officers in the line of duty. For that reason they are particularly interested in more training.
Enter the CLASS advanced riding curriculum with our focus on control and technique. Having taught advanced street riding on racetracks for decades, it turns out the CLASS program is perfect for a Motor Officer’s needs. Last year Lt. Goetz and several of his team from HPD joined us for our Labor Day CLASS at Streets. After a day on the track with my team and our standard format, they were over the moon about how much it helped their high speed riding. The planning for a school dedicated to just Motorcycle Cops was born.
September 22, 2016: The desert morning dawned as beautiful as ever and as the cops arrived, each parked their big white steed in a long line along the pit wall and through the paddock. As they de-biked it was all business, not the usual frivolity of a school morning. Sign in and tech inspection came to a close and the riders meeting began. My instructors, myself included, each wondered what we were in for this day.
As the morning wore on, the ice thawed in the classroom, while from on track I was getting reports of some good listeners and progress being made all around. By lunchtime the officers were bubbling with how much fun they were having and more importantly to me, how much they were learning. I enjoyed watching the harmony develop between the officers and the CLASS Team.
After a fantastic barbecue meal compliments of the Hawthorne PD, the officers all played along and got on their police motors to stage a mock chase around the track. Lights on sirens full blast, it was a spectacle and I’m sure all of Rosamond wondered what the hell happened west of town! But it was a lap of solidarity — it was a lot of noise and a lot of fun, something you don’t see every day. Afterward it was back to business and the “real riding” commenced once more.
We taught and rode all day long and I’m happy to report not one incident. My highest respect goes out to all the officers for their prior training and their ability to listen and learn. After a day on the track with them, that respect got even higher. But what was exceptionally rewarding to me was to hear how much the riders appreciated the school and how much they felt they learned over the course of the day.
With anything new it’s important to know whether or not we’re hitting the mark. My curiosity was satisfied and I was honored to receive some feedback including:
“While all of us ride for a living, riding well is a perishable skill. Your class forced all of us to remember the basics, to apply control and discipline in our riding, and to truly focus on the many skills and techniques necessary to enjoy a long career in what can often be an extremely dangerous profession. That we were able to practice these skills and techniques in the unique environment of Streets of Willow, in our own gear, with our own police bikes, truly made it a worthwhile experience. I know that no one left the track that day without a sense of accomplishment, increased confidence, and a firm belief that they had dramatically improved their riding skills. Coming from seasoned Motor Officers, that says a lot about the quality of both your CLASS as a program and your instructors in general.” Lt. Ti Goetz, Hawthorne PD Traffic Division
And this: “ You and your team were so down to earth and accommodating. I had no idea from the time I showed up, who you were or what you had done until halfway through that day. Everyone was just so modest and kind. I can’t say enough about how pleased and happy me and my group of officers are. I’m not kissing up, it was just that great of a day. I only have fifteen years on a bike and most of that in enforcement. I’ve had as many if not more pursuits than any of my partners and wish I had these skills before now.” Deputy Bruce Frazee, Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.
But you’ve got them now mate and I hope to help you continue to grow them and keep you and many more Motorcycle Officers safer in their daily work.
Several more events are in the planning stages for 2017 and we’re looking forward to continuing a CLASS schedule that includes the usual schools, as well as some specialty schools for Motorcycle Cops – the guys and gals who ride on to serve and to protect. Details on 2017 Motor Officers Advanced Training can be found here.
And next time you’re being pursued by a cop on a motorcycle in SoCal, pull over. They might have just finished my Motor Officers Advanced Riding with CLASS.
Thank you Bob and EtechPhoto.com for the riding shots!