Ask MC – New Motor Advice

The other day I was whining opining about my lack of motivation to blog so I put out a question on Facebook trolling for some help from you, my readers.  Eric Scaresbrook came up with this:

If you could give ONE piece of advice to a rookie MC, what would it be?

My first reaction was one?!?  Dude, I know you’ve read the blog before.  You know I go on and on about all kinds of crap.  You want me to limit it to one?!?

If this was a democracy and the will of the people had spoken, I would solemnly hang my head and abide; however, that is not the case.  I run a ruthless dictatorship and make up the rules as I go.  Consequently, I’m sort of going to answer Eric’s question about ONE piece, but I’m totally going to bastardize it and cheat because I can.

So, you know…pthbthbthbthbthb.

I will answer Eric’s simple question with a simple answer.  My one piece of advice to a rookie MC is simply this: Be safe.

“C’mon, MC!” you say, “that’s a total cop-out!”

A) You’re not as clever as you think using the term “cop-out”.

B) Get out of my living room.

C) Allow me to elaborate.

Statistically speaking, being a motor officer is one of the most dangerous positions in law enforcement.  Simply riding a motorcycle is dangerous, but when you add police work on top, it gets significantly more so.  Again, statistics will tell you that the most dangerous calls a cop can handle is a traffic stop and a domestic violence detail.  A motor officer will typically make (and cite) more traffic stops in any given month than most beat cops will in any given quarter…or an entire year.  If we repeatedly are doing some of the more dangerous things, odds are stacking against us constantly.

One of the benefits of being on the motor is traffic is much less of an issue for us.  Consequently, we are often cover for beat cops on domestic violence calls.  One of the drawbacks of being on the motor is traffic much less of an issue for us because consequently we are often cover for beat cops on domestic violence calls.

My point is that your average motor officer may run the risk of being in the line of fire more often; thus, we need to be constantly more aware of our surroundings.  In keeping with the “Be safe” advice I offer the following steps:

1) Don’t be a defensive driver.  Be offensive.  (That’s OFFensive, not ofFENsive).  People in cars won’t see you.  Your head should constantly be on a swivel.  You’re looking for violations all the time as you tool around town anyway…so multitask.  Make sure the dude next to you is off the cell, has his seat belt on, and doesn’t look like he’s gonna turn his tuna boat of a car into the space you currently occupy.  You can’t afford to have tunnel vision anymore.

2) Passenger side approach.  Most people expect the driver’s side approach.  Which is a great reason to walk up on their blind side. Gives you the advantage of surprise and you can check out the interior of the car and the driver’s hands (and passenger’s if there are any) before they know you’re there.  Not to mention this…another reason I don’t like driver’s side approaches.  Or freeway stops for that matter.

3) Head and Eyes.  You learned it in Motor School.  Never forget it.  Your bike is going to go where you are looking.  Don’t look at the retaining wall.  It will suck.

4) Carry a digital recorder (if your department doesn’t have cameras on the motors).  Use it.  Every time.  It will save your ass.

5) Train as often as you can.  If your department doesn’t make it a priority, be the squeaky wheel.  If that doesn’t do the trick or the staffing leaves much to be desired and it simply isn’t feasible, nothing says you can’t do a handful of 360s in the parking lot before you go 10-8.  Practice balance at a stop sign.  Come to a stop without putting your foot down.  Try some slow speed drills.  Anyone can ride fast in a straight line.  The challenge comes in heavy traffic when you have to really slow down and pay attention.

6) When you’re writing your cites out, make sure you pay attention to what’s going on in the stopped vehicle every so often.  Is there lots of furtive movements going on?  Is the driver still in the car?  Nothing will get your blood pressure up like hearing “Excuse me, officer” from the driver.  Who is standing right next to you.  That you never heard/saw get out of the car.

So, there you have it…a shotgun blast approach to my ONE piece of advice for a rookie motor.

Thanks for playing, Eric!

Oh, your prize?  You get to see your name on the blog.  Winner!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

4 thoughts on “Ask MC – New Motor Advice

  1. Can you elaborate on #4? I like the idea of a recorder – CYA.
    Which one do you use? How long do you save the recordings for before deleting them?

    • Before we got our camera systems, I used an Olympus digital recorder. I’d just d/l them to the dept. server. I have stops from five years ago saved in the ether.

  2. Regarding freeway stops: I’ve heard a few times that you should pull all the way to the left before stopping on the freeway to let the cop walk up safely (especially if they can’t pick a side to get out on, unlike you motors!). But it seems like most people pull to the right. What’s the preferred way to do it?

    • CA law requires you to yield to the right. I can’t speak to other states. Usually, I’ll direct folks over the PA to exit the freeway if possible.

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