On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, I saddled up and rode about 150 miles (round trip) to pay respects to Placer County Sheriff’s Deputy Detective Michael David Davis, Jr. and his family and friends. I did not ride alone.
There were ten of us from six different agencies.
Every time I ride with my motor brethren, I am reminded of so many things. These were some of my thoughts on our journey today.
Motors are unique within law enforcement.
You may think this goes without saying, but I had a very specific thoughts regarding motor units. We (sadly) train far less than any other specialized unit in law enforcement. K9? Monthly. SWAT? Same. Motors? I can’t remember the last time I went to an organized training. That being said, though, you will not find a more dependable and predictable lot of folks. Ten of us rode at about 70 mph today. We ride in tandem close enough to touch the other man’s handlebars. Each of us was about 10′ behind the other. If one of us does something stupid or isn’t paying attention, a lot of pain would result for a number of us.
The unique part comes in when I think about SWAT teams from differing agencies. If they were to gear up and handle a high risk detail with agencies they’ve never trained with, would their operation run as smoothly?
I doubt it.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that the men with whom I ride will anticipate my movements just as I anticipate theirs. I’m not saying we’re better or smarter than SWAT folks. Not in the least. We’re just different.
There’s something intuitive about those of us that make our living on two wheels. Something intangible.
Motors don’t go inside for funerals.
If you’ve ever been to an officer’s funeral, you will see a smattering of groups gathered haphazardly outside. 93% of them are motor officers.
Why? It is not out of disrespect. Quite the opposite, really. If you’ve been on a motor longer than six months, you’ve been to a funeral. It comes with the territory. Someone somewhere decided it fell under the motor officer’s purview to represent the department.
Let’s be honest, it’s a lot more moving to see an ocean of motor officers in a processional. Right, wrong, or indifferent.
No, we don’t go inside unless there is an exception. Either we personally knew the officer that was killed, we were there when it happened, or we’re new to motors.
To be blunt, I can’t take going inside anymore. Hell, I couldn’t stomach going to back-to-back services. (There was a service for Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver at the same church on November 3, 2014.)
This was the 23rd officer’s funeral I have attended in the last eleven years.
You try going to that many and see how it makes you feel.
It’s hard to ride a motorcycle with tears in your eyes.
It happens every time. On the journey there. On the journey home. The tears come unbidden when I take a second to remember what the day was for and the honor I feel at being able to show the officer’s family, friend’s and department the love that I feel for their loved one. I think about my own children and the Wife sitting in the seats of the family dealing with loss and I pray to God to spar them the experience.
Twenty-three funerals have given me twenty-three reminders that the community supports us…despite popular culture and the media’s attempts to convince me otherwise.
I remember why I do this job and for whom I do it. I do it for the soldier I saw standing at attention and saluting us on the overpass. I do it for the guy on the levee road on our ride home that pulled over to let us pass and so he could give us the world’s most enthusiastic thumbs up. I do it for the mom and the little girl who waved the American flag on the corner to honor the fallen and thank us for our service.
Motorcops are some of the funniest people in the world.
We laughed all through breakfast and lunch. We genuinely love to be around each other. The camaraderie within a motor unit, regardless of differing agencies, is something only other motors understand.
There is still life to be lived and an impact to be made.
Case in point:
We pulled in to Old Sacramento for lunch and there were two school buses about to load some kids up after an apparent field trip. They all waved and said, “Hi, Police!” Of course, we waved back and said hello. One of the guys I rode in with asked a bunch if they would take a picture with us. You’d have thought we asked them if they wanted a million bucks.
Eyes lit up and there were no shortage of smiles. (One of us let a little girl sit on his bike. He’s a swell guy. Also, his hair is indeed amazing.)
After an understandably somber event full of sadness in mourning, we had the opportunity to literally spend less than two minutes with a bunch of young kids. None of us can possibly know what kind of impact that may have.
I pray that in the amount of time I have left in this job, I never have to attend a 24th funeral.
I am not optimistic, though.
Maybe instead, I will start praying to be reminded of those kids, that soldier, that guy on the levee, and the mom and daughter. Maybe I’ll start praying in thanks for being surrounded by the caliber of people that risk their lives day in and day out on two wheels.
I know I will continue to pray for all of our safety and that each of us makes it home to the ones that love us.
To my motley crew of motors:
Thank you, gentlemen, for your wit, your compassion, and your dedication to this job. Thank you for the honor of riding with you. Thank you for taking a difficult day and helping me through it. I pray I did the same for you.