As a practical matter, the motorcycle
police officer will always be a perfect fit
for traffic control and enforcement.  In
case you haven't been on the road
recently, you'll find that motor traffic only
increases.  Traffic jams have become a
daily fact of life in many parts of the
country.  When situations exist that
prevent normal motorized patrol units
from reaching a critical location in traffic
due to unexpected obstacles, the
motorcycle officer will easily traverse
around such obstacles.

Another benefit derived from motorcycle
police is image.  Sure...there will always
be those who think those helmets,
boots, and well fitting uniforms project
too much authority...dah.  Even in police
departments where there's little
oversight regarding the appearance of
their uniformed police officers, their
motorcycle units won't suffer from that
same lack of attention.  Motorcycle
officers take great pride in their
appearance, and they always project a
clean, professional image.

If you're looking toward becoming a
motor cop at some point in your career,
you should realize that there are risks
involved.  More police officers die in
automobile accidents than in any other
line of duty death.  The obvious problem
with a motorcycle is your very open
exposure.  You face a higher probability
of injury from impact and ejection than
you would from a car accident of similar

If you're already a motorcycle enthusiast,
you should be familiar with the absolute
importance of safety considerations and
your ability to develop the skills
necessary to keep unskilled and  
inattentive drivers from hurting you.

Just because you may be an enthusiast
in something will not necessarily make
you an expert.  When it comes to
motorcycles, your police department will
provide you the training necessary to
make your motorcycle assignment a safe
and rewarding experience.  As with any
other type of training, you should never
enter training thinking you already know
more than the trainers.  When it comes
to something like motorcycles, you may
well have a high level of expertise when
you enter training; however, always
remember that a training environment is
organized for training...not debate.

Since I'm no expert when it comes to the
operation of motorcycles, I've searched
the Internet for those who are experts.  
The article below describes some
excellent examples of how police training
could sometimes differ from generally
accepted operational methods and the
reasons for those differences.
"...despite the fact that full-face
helmets are demonstrably safer
than 3/4 or smaller shells, there
is not a single motorcycle
policeman in the entire country
that wears one."
~ James R. Davis
Reprinted with permission
Motorcycle Officers Are
Not The Best Examples
by James R. Davis
I have read that mounting a motorcycle
from the right side is 'OK' and for proof
the poster pointed out that the
motorcycle police in California are
required to do so.

While I believe it is true that at least the
California Highway Patrol requires their
motorcycle officers to use the right side
to both mount and dismount their
machines, that is hardly an example one
should draw heavy conclusions from. It
may suggest that if you pull to the side
of a freeway and want to dismount you
might be safer getting on and off on the
right side based on traffic risk, but that
does not infer that it is generally safer to
do so.

Your side stand provides a WIDE tripod
footprint (unlike your center stand) that
virtually guarantees your bike will not fall
over if you lean against it. (This, by the
way, is why it is far safer to leave your
bike on its side stand than it is to put it
on its center stand in a storm.) You
would court dumping the bike if it was
not LEANING heavily on its side stand
when you mounted it (as when the bike
is parked on a slope to the right.)
Similarly, mounting from the right tends
to relieve pressure from the side stand
unless you 'hop' onto your left foot
before your fanny hits the seat. Worse,
your right foot is planted firmly on the
ground when you do that and if the bike
were to fall over you could not get away
from it.

This is not a challenge of the motorcycle
police. But they are hardly the best role
models for most of us. Consider that
despite the fact that full-face helmets are
demonstrably safer than 3/4 or smaller
shells, there is not a single motorcycle
policeman in the entire country that
wears one. Also please observe that
keeping two hands on the grips is
obviously safer than riding with only one
in control. This is why those of us with
CB's have a PTT button within reach of a
finger on the left hand without removing
that hand from the grip. Yet some of our
motorcycle police still use a hand
microphone. (I'm told that in California -
and probably most everywhere else -
most motorcycle police officers now use
helmet mounted microphones and
conventional left-thumb activated PTT
switches - their helmet cords disconnect
easily as they leave their bikes.)

The answer to these apparently less safe
practices of our motorcycle officers is
that they have different risks to manage
than we street riders do. They do not
want to lose visual contact with a suspect
for the brief time it takes to remove a
full-face helmet (nor do they want to
occupy both hands taking a helmet off.)
They must often leave their bikes FAST
and a microphone/speaker cord going to
their helmets could cost them their lives if
they had to deal with them at a
vulnerable time. They tend to work busy
freeways and mount/dismount their bikes
frequently at the side of the road. (And,
of course, they mount and dismount on
the right to put their bikes between
themselves and a possible bullet from the
driver of the car in front of them.)

All I'm saying is that suggesting that a
motorcycle officer be used as a role
model for how to behave on your street
machine is a bad choice. It is clearly safer
(except, perhaps, on the side of a
freeway) to mount and dismount your
bike from the left. It is safer to ride with
a full-face helmet than a smaller shell. It
is safer to use a built-in microphone than
a hand-held.

But then again, it is safer not being a
motorcycle officer in any event.
Copyright © 1992-2007 by The Master
Strategy Group, all rights reserved.
"As a practical matter, the
motorcycle police officer will always
be a perfect fit for traffic control and
enforcement." ~ Barry M. Baker
Motorcycle police units are another one of
those units that bear the
traditional label
which often places their continued
existence into doubt.  When police chiefs
go through their periodic cost saving
efforts, they'll often consider cutting back
on their motorcycle fleets to save dollars
they can throw away on something else.  
Ironically, the single circumstance which
will ensure the continued existence of
motor cops is the motorcade.  When the
politicians want to impress other
politicians and
VIPs, they'll always turn to
their police departments' motorcycle
police to provide impressive sound and
light shows.

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Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
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