By G.J. Sagi
For a police officer on motorcycle patrol, even a minor accident can lead to a hospital stay…or worse. Learning to predict and avoid collisions for the pavement-weary professional soon becomes more then skill – it’s survival.
Each year, Arizona law enforcement agencies are invited to compete in the Law Enforcement Motorcycle Rodeo, sponsored by Wings of Phoenix Motorcycle Club and Maryvale Mall. Held in Phoenix every March, the rodeo’s main purpose is to promote and publicize motorcycle safety and awareness.
Riders perform maneuvers around a course designed to simulate street driving hazards. While exotic event names like “Bump and Go,” “Ninety-degree pullout,” and “Double Pullout,” keep many weak-stomach riders away, the Tucson Police Department team is developing something of a dynasty by having finished in first place three times in the last four years.
Senior Officer Sergeant Eugene Mejia said nine officers represent Tucson. He, along with Kenny Vaughan, Jeffery Couch and Ronald Slyter, made up the overall winning team. The second Tucson team, composed of Michael Barr, Guy Cox, Wayne Jacobs and Steve Belda took third-place honors. The alternate, Stan Thibaut, punctuated a Tucson-dominated event by placing second in the individual events. Each of the nine riders came away with a least one award.
The competition is co-sponsored by what much of the public wrongly perceives as a “biker gang.” The Wings of Phoenix, like most motorcycle clubs, has fairings, luggage racks and equipment similar to the Kawasaki Police Special 1000’s which run in the competition. Officer Mejia stresses that the rodeo not only promotes fellowship between recreational and police “bikers,” but emphasizes the importance of proper motorcycle safety.
He says the Tucson team members practiced an hour a day two weeks prior to the rodeo. But we all know better. Like every other “motor” across the nation, they practice every time they hit the street.