Detective Lieutenant Barry M. Baker (ret.) is a 32 year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department.
A motorcycle police unit is one of those units that bear the “traditional” label which often places their continued existence into doubt. Police chiefs go through their periodic cost saving efforts, and they’ll often consider cutting back on motorcycle fleets. Ironically, the single circumstance which will ensure the continued existence of motor cops is the motorcade. The politicians like to impress other politicians and VIPs, and they turn to their police departments’ motorcycle police to provide impressive sound and light shows.
As a practical matter, the motorcycle police officer will always be a perfect fit for traffic control and enforcement. If you’ve been on the road recently, you know that motor traffic only increases. Traffic jams have become a daily fact of life in many parts of the country. Situations occur that prevent normal motorized patrol units from reaching a critical location due to obstacles, but the motorcycle police officer will easily traverse any 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. In a police department where there’s little oversight regarding the appearance of its uniformed patrol, its motorcycle police unit won’t suffer from that lack of attention. Motorcycle officers take great pride in their appearance, and they always project a clean, professional image.
There are Risks
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 severity.
If you’re already a motorcycle enthusiast, you should be familiar with the absolute importance of safety. Your ability to develop the skills necessary to keep unskilled and inattentive drivers from hurting you will be paramount.
You may be a motorcycle enthusiast, but that does not necessarily make you an expert. Your police department will provide you the training necessary to make your motorcycle police 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 and not debate.
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