Carson City Sheriff’s Motor Unit an elite group
April 1, 2017
To be a part of the motor unit with the Carson City Sheriff's Office, selected deputies must graduate from one of the most rigorous and difficult trainings offered in law enforcement.
Carson City's school is two weeks long, with the officers training about eight hours a day on the motorcycle. The students have to learn how to ride a motorcycle for law enforcement purposes. At the end of each week they're tested to make sure they have the consistency and skills to be able to navigate the bike on patrol on the streets.
"This is the toughest school any law enforcement officer could go through," said Motor Sgt. Earl Mays. "It is just brutal."
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Mays along with Deputies Gary Denham and Joey Trotter are in charge of training the new motor officers. During the two weeks the three set up a variety of exercises to train with. The first week is cone work to help familiarize the new officers to the bikes and teach them the basics of law enforcement riding. The second week they actually ride on the streets to simulate more of what the officers will see on a daily basis. They will ride in formation around Carson City as well as work on certain certifications in Virginia City. At the end of the school, the entire unit goes on a 10-hour endurance ride as the final test.
However, this school is more than just learning how to ride a motorcycle; it's a constant test of the student's mental and physical capabilities.
"It is not just physically demanding (for them) but also mentally too, you have to be able to do both," Trotter said. "You can't shut down and rely on your muscles to get you through."
This round, the trainers had only one of two potential motor officers graduate.
"It is unfortunate (that one officer didn't pass), however, this is the reason for the school: to get everyone trained and to see their abilities to see if they can do what is needed of them physically and mentally," Mays said. "It's important because here you have second chances, on the streets you don't. Because of that, it is one of the hardest trainings a police officer can go through."
For Carson, the pass-fail rate is 65:45 and for other motor schools it's a 50:50 pass-fail rate.
"Ours is good because we have good trainers and we are a small school so there is more one on one training versus a big department where you are just a number," Mays said.
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But the unit was able to welcome one new officer: Deputy Kevin Cook passed the school last week.
"I knew this was going to be difficult to go through, but it was something I have always wanted to do so I knew once I started I wasn't going to give up," Cook said.
Cook has been riding dirt bikes all his life, so familiarity with the machine wasn't an issue, however, he had to relearn how to ride as a police officer.
"The hardest thing for me was learning how to ride like a motor cop because I grew up with a different skill set and I needed to learn to break those bad habits to operate the motorcycle efficiently," Cook said. "But having that motor background was invaluable and it helped a lot."
The motor unit is in charge of traffic enforcement as well as normal calls for service with the patrol division.