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 severity.

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
"...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

But then again, it is safer not being a motorcycle
officer in any event.
Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc. and the
Northwestern University Center for Public Safety
have worked in partnership to present the nation's
premiere training programs for police motorcyclists.
Focusing on ten practical exercises that stress
low-speed maneuverability, evasion techniques, and
high-speed braking skills, students of our program
spend approximately 90% of the course "in the
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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