Saturday’s Question

Yes, I know it’s Monday. Shut up…

This week’s question comes from Annoying Mouse (self-proclaimed):

I think it would be interesting for your readers to know what training an officer has to be a motor cop i.e. have a motorcycle license and you get picked?

Excellent question, Mouse. I, as per usual, can only attest to my personal journey and operate under the assumption that different departments have different policies and procedures. With that in mind, however, I can answer your question.

In my case, I showed a, shall we say, predisposition to the issuing of citations. When I was in patrol, I, on average, would issue three times the number of moving violations as our traffic car and as much, if not more, than other patrol officers. That’s not to say that the other members of my department were lazy. They just didn’t dig it as much as I did/do.

I have been on a bike since ’84. I was a passenger for the first ten years on my Dad’s ’84 Honda Goldwing. We took that bike camping pretty much all over the western half of the U.S. From two week trips to the Grand Canyon to 10 days up to Canada. In ’95, I traded in my 81 Honda Civic (can you say chick magnet!?) for a ’92 Honda Nighthawk 750. In ’03, I bought an ’02 Honda VTX 1800 Retro (now you can say chick magnet). So, yeah, I had a motorcycle license.

My particular department doesn’t require you to have an M1 endorsement on your license to put in for the position (but it doesn’t hurt). You do, however, need one to attend Motor School.

Motor School is a two week, 80-hr course designed to improve a rider’s skill. Mostly, it’s very slow speed cone pattern work. I fucking hated it. Most guys I’ve talked to go on and on about how great their motor school was. Not me. I damn near quit.

It wasn’t that it was over the top hard. It wasn’t that I wasn’t used to the bike they provided (a stripped down Kawasaki). I just couldn’t get out of my own head. I’d been riding forever, but I couldn’t bring myself to complete all the patterns without either hitting too many cones or dumping the bike.

Oh…and if anyone tells you they got through Motor School without dumping their bike, they are either a) the best rider on the face of the Earth or b) a huge fucking liar. We ALL dump it at some point…and some repeatedly….it’s part of training and makes you better.

Once again, I relied on the Wife to get me through a tough time. I called her on a lunch break and said I was seriously considering throwing in the towel. She talked me down, encouraged me to continue and said to just do my best. I went back to the school before the lunch break was over and took one of the bikes on the course. (I don’t think they really wanted us to do that with no instructors around for liability reasons, but what they didn’t know couldn’t hurt ’em).

First time out I finished every pattern without hitting a solitary cone and never put the bike on its side. As soon as I did that, I knew I could do it regardless of who was watching. That was my whole hang up…being observed. Well shit, I get observed everyday, right? Why should this be any different? For the rest of the week, I was right as rain and sailed through the remainder of the school.

The 80 hr school is simply for the operation of the motorcycle. Then comes the intensive Accident Investigation courses. I won’t get into the specifics of each class, but I’ll give you the list and hours involved.

Basic – 40
Intermediate – 40
Advanced – 80
CRUSH – 40
TAR (Traffic Accident Reconstruction) – 80
TAR II – 40
Leica Training (Forensic Mapping) – 40
Vista FX (CAD program to assist Forensic Mapping) – 40

There are other classes (Veh vs. Ped, Veh vs. Motorcycle) that I have yet to take, but the above list gives you an idea of the training we go through to investigate collisions. By my count (and considering the amount of math in these classes, my count should be accurate!), that is 320 hours of accident specific investigation and 80 hrs of additional training to assist in the mapping/reconstruction of the collision. Not everyone enjoys the math as much as I, but more often that not, if you’re a Motor, you’re required to complete the lion’s share of this training.

Being a Motor in my department also means you’re a member of the team that investigates major injury/fatal collisions. That’s why we need all the above training.

So my job is more than just writing tickets…although it is the part that is both the most fun and the more common.

Well, Mouse, that should about sum it up. If you’re looking for a shorter answer…yes, you need an M1 and then, yes, you will get picked. 🙂

Thanks for the question and I look forward to getting more from the rest of you. I’ve got a few still stored up from the past week or two, but don’t be shy. If I keep getting more questions, I’ll post more than once a week.

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

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6 thoughts on “Saturday’s Question

  1. Ok, riding a motorcycle around all day sounds like a great job, but I want to know who bicycle cops have to tick off to get that gig….bleeech!

  2. Completing motor school was one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding things I've done in my career. I was so beat up banged up bruised up that I could barely walk, but you learn to turn that bike wicked tight, as my buddy from back east would say.

    And yes Rebecca, riding a motorcycle and getting paid for it is one of the coolest jobs around, it makes the searing 100 degree heat in the summer sitting over a hot engine and the freezing commutes in the fog in the winter worth it, cuz we know we look bad ass…I think MC would agree.

  3. BootedCopper…

    Hell yeah, I agree! And just to make sure the point is driven home…although I hated it (at least part of it) whilst in it, Motor School was the most satisfying thing I've done in my career. It was the most stressful, but definitely the most rewarding.

  4. I have a question for you. I will email it to you soon but I wanted to do a little more research before I send it. I enjoy your blog.

  5. Thanks for answering my question, that's a whole lot of extra training and many hours…Wow. Do you get called out for major traffic accidents or is someone trained aways working?

  6. Everyone will dump the bike in motor school. I came home with bruises on all parts of my body. My class teased each other about the dumps but when one of us hit the pavement I think we were all there to offer a hand and encouragement. We all passed the course (amazing)and I think it brought my rag tag group of class mates together. We all don't ride for the job. But, most of us run extra jobs on the bike. Ride Safe, Be Safe!