Nov 042010

Reprinted from PoliceOne

Many cops aren’t even allowed to attempt a purist of a perpetrator riding a high-speed motorcycle — the problem is that these criminals know it!

Editor’s Note: In early August, Washington State Trooper Brian Salyer encountered a group of motorcyclists — increasingly brazen in their driving because they know a single patrol car is no match for their high-speed bikes — and ended up overturned in a ditch beside the interstate. Happily, he was treated for traumatic head injuries and a laceration to an artery in his neck before being released from the hospital, but bag guys on bikes pose myriad dangers. Below, PoliceOne Columnist Andrew Hawkes asks our members for help with the question, “What can we do?”

Having been on the street in some form or capacity for the majority of my career, I’ve learned to take things in stride and not get too upset about policy changes or changes in the statutes. As law enforcement officers, it’s our job to enforce the law impartially — without prejudice — whether or not we agree with all the laws we are required to enforce. However, there is one change we’ve seen on the streets in the past several years that just plain chaps my hide. It is the fact that most agencies now do not allow their officers to pursue café style motorcycles — more commonly known as “crotch rockets” — and the perpetrators riding these bikes know it. It just plain pisses me off is that these criminals know we’re all but helpless in enforcing the law when they speed past us, popping a “wheelie” at 100+ miles per hour.

Even when an officer does hit his red and blues to conduct a traffic stop, the motorcyclist looks back, shrugs his shoulders, and takes off. He has just committed a felony and there are absolutely no repercussions for it! It’s to the point in my state that it’s practically and epidemic, and no one (other than us cops) is even discussing it, let alone doing anything to stop it.

The very notion that these individuals will run from the police should be an indicator as to what type of culture these “motorcyclist” are involved in. They are not merely riding these motorcycles for transportation or for leisure. If they commit a felony and disregard a police officer it should be an indication that they probably are involved in other types of illegal activity as well. But we are just supposed to turn our heads as if it never happened.

I understand that trying to catch these guys is nearly impossible unless they wreck out or you have a helicopter that can assist, but there has got to be a better solution than just giving up and turning off your lights.

The fact is not only do they criminals instantly win, but now the officer can face internal trouble and even criminal charges for pursuing these bikes.

So what is the solution? What can we do? I guess that’s what I’m asking our readers here on PoliceOne. Let’s brainstorm and do something. Can we get the legislatures involved somehow? Could the manufacturers of these motorcycles help in some way? Could the state department of motor vehicles impose certain restrictions? With today’s technology, surely there is some type of system that we could track or identify someone who fails to yield to a police officer. Let’s make this column into something of a discussion forum. Someone out there has a solution to this problem. I want them to make themselves known in the comments below.

I’m certainly open for suggestions. Of course, when these guys run from us, 99 percent of us would just like to…well, I think we all know what we would like to do when these guys try to run, but maybe I’ll leave that to the reader comments as well.

For now, however, next time I see one speeding down the interstate at 100 mph doing a wheelie, I’ll just wave and smile at the felon as he flips me off, then I’ll punch my steering wheel and cuss a blue streak till I calm down.

About the author

Lt. Hawkes is a 19-year police veteran. In addition to his years of highway drug interdiction, Lt. Hawkes has worked in patrol, K9, investigations, narcotics and administration. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Dallas Baptist University and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. He has been the recipient of both State and Local awards. His book, Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction, which can be purchased here,, contains eleven chapters on Highway Drug Interdiction.

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