College Station police officers place in motorcycle skills challenge

College Station police officers place in motorcycle skills challenge

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For the third year in a row, officers from the College Station Police Department brought home a trophy from the Capital of Texas Police Motorcycle Chute Out.

The skills competition, which is also referred to as a motorcycle rodeo, puts more than 100 officers from across the country and Canada to the test as they push their vehicles to the limit.

“We lean so much and turn so hard that we’re grinding frame away from the motorcycle, but you’ve got to because they set these cone courses up tight, and if you don’t lean and if you don’t get on there and handle that bike like you should, you’ll never make it,” CSPD Cpl. Robert Turner said.

CSPD officers have earned a top-three place and at least one trophy all three years they have competed in the event, which had its fifth annual competition this year.

In addition to being fun, the courses give CSPD officers a chance to hone their skills, he said, noting there is no room for error.

“It’s one thing to be in a parking lot in a protected area and ride. You can apply that to the real world out here on the street because there’s no second chances out here on the street,” he continued. “It’s good training for us, and it definitely improves your riding ability to be able to go to one of these things … It’s better to learn from your mistakes and finely hone your skills in a protected environment because then when you master it there, then, you can go apply it on the street and be more proficient on the street.”

When Turner first went through motorcycle school, he did not think he could master the required skills.

“You make this bike do things that it doesn’t want to do,” he said. “We’re pushing it so far to the limits that we’re grinding down the frame of it because we’re leaning so hard and we’re dragging so hard.”

Confidence is the number one takeaway CSPD Officer James Habeeb gets from the rodeos. This year, Habeeb took home the third-place trophy in the Harley-Davidson Road King division with Officers Michael Fisher and Tony Gonzales finishing in fifth and sixth place, respectively.

“You go to these rodeos, and you don’t realize what you can do until you see other people doing it. The biggest thing that relates to me is that it saves your life,” Habeeb said. “Knowing that you can make that tight of a turn and drag your floorboards and stay tight, that means that I know that when I’m out in that intersection, I know that I can turn around and stay in that lane of travel and not have to worry about getting hit and things I need to do… You know when to drop the clutch and hit the throttle and how much gas to give it and when to brake and know what to do. This thing will do anything you want … It’s getting to know this tool that we’re given because in reality, I know that they’re beautiful Harleys, but at the end of the day it’s a tool.”

Each officer who earns a top-three finish in the novice category, as Habeeb did this year, is thrust into the expert category.

“That’s where the amazing stuff really happens… When you think you’re a good rider, and you go up and see what some of these guys can do, it’s pretty humbling,” Turner said about the expert category, noting the Harley-Davidsons they ride weigh 900 pounds.

In addition to Texas officers, the competition — hosted by the Travis County Sheriff’s office and partnering agencies from Williamson, Travis and Hays counties — has included public safety officers from Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee and Canada. Members of the United States Secret Service also have participated in previous years.

Although the Bryan Police Department has a motorcycle division, BPD spokeswoman Officer Kelley McKethan said none of the officers competed in the March 7-10 event in Pflugerville.

The motorcycle unit allows CSPD to get into locations and chase people through areas the larger vehicles cannot. In the case of wrecks or other incidents on the roads, Turner said, the motorcycle officers arrive before the patrol vehicles.

“There’s hardly anything that we won’t attempt to go through, around or between on a police motorcycle … We can pretty much take this motorcycle anybody can run.”

The primary function of the CSPD motorcycle unit is traffic enforcement, Turner said, but added they also help with funeral and dignitary escorts, patrol school zones, reconstruct fatal wreck scenes and fill in for other officers when needed. As part of traffic enforcement, they will set up at high-crash intersections or areas, based on the prior month’s data, to help reduce the number of incidents at those locations.

Both Turner and Habeeb say the motorcycle officers have the best jobs at CSPD.

“My gosh, the rush; it’s so much fun to ride a motorcycle. Plus, we’ve got the best guys we work with. We’re all tight-knit,” Turner said.

“I’m overjoyed to go to work and get out there,” Habeeb said.

The most difficult thing about being a police officer, Habeeb said, is the public misunderstanding of their role.

“There’s a negative image that’s associated with us, but yet if the idea of what we were truly trying to do was understood, they would be like, ‘OK, that makes sense,'” he said. “Because to us, you going 10 over is an accident where somebody doesn’t go home and a mother loses a child or something like that. That’s the big thing is to us we see the impact. I would much rather give a ticket than work an accident where somebody has died.”

In the future, Turner said, he hopes to bring a motorcycle rodeo to College Station.

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About Craig Ballantyne 17799 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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