Police officers on motorcycles can maneuver where patrol cars can not go.
Police motorcycle training includes everything from learning the nomenclature of motorcycles, to learning ride in high stress conditions, to police-specific skills like shooting a weapon while on a motorcycle. Not all police departments handle motorcycle training the same, but most provide at least a basic class.
Basic Motorcycle Knowledge
New motorcycle police officers go through basic motorcycle training in the classroom where they learn motorcycle nomenclature, theories of safe riding, and basic motorcycle maintenance. From the classroom the officer learns about the specific type of motorcycle his department uses, and the department’s motorcycle policies. When an officer leaves the classroom, she first learns pick up her motorcycle if it falls on its side. Rather than relying on pure strength that can cause injury, she learns to use technique to get the bike upright.
High Speed Maneuvering
According to Midwest Police Motorcycle Training, officers learn do speed maneuvers under a controlled setting. The officers take the motorcycle to 40 mph and learn to use both front and rear wheel braking together and independently. The officers also learn to control a rear wheel skid. More police specific skills the officers practice include 40 mph evasive and escape maneuvers, handling the bike while emergency braking in a curve, and negotiating curbs and other obstacles.
Slow Speed Maneuvering
It sounds contrary to logic, but maneuvering a motorcycle at high speed requires less skill than tight, slow-speed maneuvers. The skills law enforcement officers learn during motorcycle training allow the officers to turn the bike in tight spaces at very low speeds. To practice slow speed skills officers ride the bikes in tight cone patterns where the officer must apply counter-steering along with an extreme lean angle to get the bike around the obstacles. The officers learn about target fixation, that the bike will go where the rider looks, and that looking with just the eyes does not work as well as turning the whole head.
Tactical training includes having the officers practice shooting live rounds while sitting on the bike, and in learning use the bike for cover. Motorcycle Cops, a website dedicated to motorcycle officers and their training, says that training should even include practice traffic stops where both the officer and the vehicle driver have paintball guns to simulate the tensions and actions required in such a situation if the weapons were real. Officers need to also learn escort procedures, and in some departments, the officers also learn off-road skills, sometimes on different bikes than they would ride on the street.
According to Motorcycle Cops, 48.8 percent of law enforcement agencies do no training for motorcycle police officers after the initial ride school. Charleston, S.C. Police Sgt. Rob Grimsley, a 20-year motorcycle police veteran, points out in an article on Motorcycle Cops that continued education greatly increases the safety of motorcycle officers. With regular practice and training, the skills needed in a dangerous situation come back automatically to the officer so she can focus her attention on getting the situation under control rather than having to think about maneuver the motorcycle. Grimsley advocates monthly training under simulated real world conditions to best prepare the motorcycle officer for potential situations while on the job.