Weaving through a maze of cones strategically placed in tight patterns is the challenge 65 Southern California motor officers took to prove who is best on their bikes.
The Orange County Traffic Officer’s Association held its annual Motor Rodeo on Wednesday at Huntington State Beach to raise money for the nonprofit, which provides assistance to officers injured on the job and the families of those killed in the line of duty.
Officers from more than a dozen agencies including Huntington Beach, Anaheim, La Habra, Los Angeles and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department competed in the event.
The day included team competitions, courses based on motorcycle type and the Top Gun challenge, in which officers went head-to-head riding through cone patterns.
On the Top Gun course, a missed a pattern, knocked over cone, or foot touched to ground meant elimination.
It’s more difficult than it sounds, and some officers work throughout the year to prepare.
In Huntington Beach, officers train four times a year, said officer Mark Van Meter, a former Navy Seal who won the Top Gun award in 2012.
“A lot of departments don’t do any re-occurring training … that’s huge in and of itself,” he said. “There’s that and lots of miles on the road, lots of years on the road.”
While showcasing these skills makes for fun competition and an entertaining afternoon, there is an important purpose behind this intricate riding.
“It’s very similar to weaving in and out of traffic if you’re on your way to an emergency call,” said Van Meter, who competed on Wednesday. “You may have to weave through cars, or through pedestrians, or whatever you have to do. These skills are important.”
This year’s Top Gun was officer Tony Karg from the Pasadena Police Department. Officer Brad Schepman, also from Pasadena, took second place, and Officer Robert Romans of Corona came in third.