When you're on motor patrol, you don't have the protection of a vehicle surrounding you as you ride. This means you need to be especially careful to keep yourself safe. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Always Be All In
You must be present and in the moment at all times whenever riding your motorcycle. This means you can't let your mind wander and must stay focused on the task at hand. This also means recognizing when you shouldn't be riding. Do not ride when you are tired, sick, or not mentally prepared. You will not be able to ride at 100% of your capability, and that puts you and others at risk.
2. Ride Defensively
Riding a motorcycle changes from traffic light to traffic light. You can't take anything or anyone for granted. You need to anticipate the careless driver's potential moves against you. This is largely because research shows that drivers only see motorcyclists when they are looking for them. And most drivers aren't looking. Don't assume they will see you. The same goes for anytime you're stopped. Whenever you stop at a traffic light or stop sign, leave yourself an exit plan. Stay in gear and keep your foot on the brake. Keep checking your mirrors at least until several cars behind you stop. And should someone attack you, you want to be ready for it, not just a sitting duck.
3. Don't Skimp On Training
Motors training is critical to your success and safety. It's no different than running or lifting weights. You are only as good as your training, so don't skip training sessions. And don't discount the importance of incorporating tactical training into your regimen. Just as you would practice tactics using your patrol car, you must train with your bike. For example, practice your tactical approaches, how and when to use your bike for cover, and learn how to ride off road.
4. Warm Up
At the start of each tour of duty, warm up with your bike. Do your figure eights, full left and right turns from a stop, and some emergency braking for good measure.
5. Keep Up On Vehicle Maintenance
Make sure your bike is fully maintained and operational. Do not skimp on maintenance. And don't wait until a scheduled service to find out if it's safe to ride. Make sure you check your bike each and every time before you start your shift.
6. Prepare for the Weather
In addition to your usual duty gear, have your inclement weather gear available on every shift. Warm jackets, rain gear, and sun block go a long way toward keeping you patrol ready. Being lazy on this front will only result in your being miserable. Riding while cold and wet or painfully sunburned sucks no matter how tough of an officer you are. And when you're noticeably uncomfortable, it's hard to be at the top of your game.
7. Wear Your Vest
You never know when you'll need ballistic protection. And when you're as vulnerable as you are on a motorcycle, any protection is a good thing, including in the event of a crash. Like your helmet provides protection for your head, a vest's blunt force protection around your vital organs could help you survive a collision.
Thank you to Amaury Murgado for sharing his expertise and assisting in the development of this article.
Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the April issue of POLICE Magazine.