National City, CA Police Department



By Dan Fabinski

Motor Sergeant, National City P.D.

The police motorcycle is one of the most versatile and productive tools a police department can field for effective traffic enforcement.  Its size and maneuverability are unmatched in virtually all traffic conditions.  Unfortunately, the same attributes that make it extremely effective also make it significantly more dangerous than its four-wheeled counterparts.  The most effective method of reducing this inherent danger is through consistent quality training.  I can bet many of you are already saying to yourselves, “Oh no, not another article about motor training.”

Well, this is not just another article; it is an article designed to save your life or the life of your fellow motor officers.  Most police departments participate in some sort of motor training program.  Generally it occurs about once a month and consists of maneuvering at slow speeds through tight cone patterns, some higher-speed emergency braking and evasive techniques, and so forth.  This type of training is critical in keeping our motor officers riding abilities at a proficient level.  But it’s not enough!

It is given that the majority of motor officers in our state are extremely proficient riders.  They ride every day, most take pride in their riding abilities and tend to be very familiar with their mounts.  They also gain proficiency by making dozens of traffic stops each day.  Where is makes them more proficient riders it can also lead to disaster.  With the high amount of traffic stops, become routine, causing motor officers to become complacent.  How many motor officers are ready for the driver who quickly exits their vehicle, gun or other weapon in hand, and charges?

An officer in a patrol car has many more options in this scenario.  Other then using the patrol car as cover, they can exit their vehicle and return fire; gain time by ducking down or driving in reverse; or even accelerating forward and using their patrol car as an instrument of deadly force, along with many other choices.  What about a motor officer?  How many options does a motor officer have in the volatile situation? You cannot put it in reverse and rapidly back away, and you definitely cannot ram the suspect or suspect vehicle, at least not effectively.  Are you and your fellow motor officers prepared for this scenario? Unfortunately, I bet many or not. 

So why not encompass these types of situations in your monthly motor training. Start practicing the out-of-the-ordinary traffic stops. Run through some drills. Start out slow and work in a step-by-step method until you and your fellow motors can quickly and correctly draw your service pistol, dismount the motor while focusing attention and service pistol on the suspect, taking cover behind the motor and returning fire if necessary.

Here is one way to do it. But first, remember safety, safety, safety. Each officer must unload and clear their service pistol, and remove all ammunition from their person. Then have a second and a third officer double-and triple-check to make sure each service pistol is unloaded and safe. (Red guns and training guns are even better if available.) Start from a stopped position, motor upright with officer straddling, clutch level pulled in, and engine off. Practice drawing your service pistol with your riding gloves on. Once this feels comfortable, move on to the next step. Depending on whether you are right-or left-handed makes a difference in these techniques.

1977, 1977 Kawasaki KZ 1000 A-1
2008 National City Motor Unit Group Photo

Information and Photos provided by the National City, CA Police Department.