Motorcycle officers for the LSU Police Department showcased their riding skills Friday in front of the public and officers from around the nation during the 13th annual Gulf Coast Police Motorcycle Skills Championship.
The event featured 112 motorcycle officers from the local area and abroad. The officers competed in a speed course, a slow-ride course and a challenge course.
Officers paid an entry fee to compete, and a golf cart was raffled, with all proceeds going to the Dream Day Foundation, an organization benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Louisiana State Police Sgt. Markus Smith said the event consists of three days of practice and two days of competition.
“It is a lot of fun for these guys,” he said. “Everyone comes out a much better rider.”
LSUPD officer James Pittman said he started riding motorcycles five years ago, but such an event allows him to gain confidence needed in everyday patrolling.
Pittman said the biggest prize of the competition is the pride that goes along with being one of the best riders around, but the event’s main objectives are raising money for a good cause and learning valuable motorcycle skills.
Pittman’s children were at the event cheering him on as he went through the course, something he said they love doing each year.
Many families of the officers, as well as the members of the public, come out to show support, he said.
Smith said the event brings positive public interaction with officers.
The public’s contacts with the police are not always under the best circumstances, but when children are able to sit on the motorcycles and watch the course, they are able to see the good side of policing and the hard work that goes into it, he said.
Spectators were able to watch officers weave between cones and make extremely sharp turns, occasionally scraping the side of their motorcycles along the ground. Between turns, officers accelerated quickly to get to the next set of cones.
LSUPD officer Boris McKnight completed the course in a time worthy of a top-10 ranking.
McKnight started riding motorcycles three years ago, and he said events like this make him a rider with one of the better times at the challenge.
The course helps the officers prepare for some of the dangers they may face on the road through proper braking techniques and sharp-turn maneuvers, McKnight said.
“We don’t have any protection around us,” McKnight said, mentioning that motorcycle officers face more danger than other officers, but the championship prepares them to handle any situation.
The officers train to save their lives, but at the end of the day, they are helping to save the lives of the children at St. Jude.
Sgt. David Wallace of the Baton Rouge Police Department said the event raised $70,000 this year and has raised $750,000 for the Dream Day Foundation over the course of its 15-year history.