She gets called “motorman.” Sometimes, she’s “motor lady.” If there’s an official title for her, it hasn’t stuck quite yet with the public.
Chantale Jones, a 15-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol, is the first and only woman serving as a motorcycle trooper for the statewide agency.
Jones, 38, a married mother of three based in Davie, joined the motorcycle unit about three years ago, enforcing the law on her Harley-Davidson ever since. It’s a source of pride for the agency’s motor unit, which consists of her and 49 other troopers.
The Florida Highway Patrol has a rich history with motorcycles.
In the 1930s, all troopers were trained on both motorcycles and cars. The motor unit section was phased out in the mid-1960s but resurrected in 1984. A year later, an official motor squad kicked off in Miami. The state currently has motorcycle troopers in five regions: Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.
So why is Jones the only woman on the motorcycle force? It may have something to do with the overall lower percentage of women on the force, as is the case with several other law enforcement departments.
Of the almost 2,000 troopers across Florida, less than 15 percent are women. And making it into the motorcycle unit can be difficult, evidenced by a high failure rate among applicants, said Trooper Deano Kates-Paulus, who trained with Jones. “I have seen people twice her size fail,” Kates-Paulus said.
But Jones always has been dedicated, and she’s considered the same as every other motorman, he said.
“Troopers who go to motor school have to really love it,” Kates-Paulus said. “If you don’t love motorcycles, you won’t do it.”
Lucky for Jones, she happens to love motorcycles. Her husband, a retired military veteran, rides them, and she got into using them, too.
Twelve years into her career, Jones decided to take the leap and join the motor unit.
Deciding to join was the easy part — passing the strenuous two-week school wasn’t.
Jones, who is 5 feet 1 and weighs 135 pounds, remembers having to make her 1,100-pound Harley-Davidson stand upright several times during training. She said the training was the hardest thing she has ever done.
“It was a tough road,” Jones said. “It was hard, extremely hard.”
It’s fulfilling to be an inspiration: Jones, who is African-American, said little girls of all races tend to gravitate toward her when she shows up on her bike for community events.
“It would be nice to see more of us out there,” she said.