Cops display their biker chops in Tulalip

  • Sun May 16th, 2010 12:02am
  • News

By Katya Yefimova Herald Writer

TULALIP — It takes great skill to chase bad guys on a motorcycle.

More than 150 police officers from agencies across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Canada showed off their skills Saturday in a riding competition at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

The contest was part of the three-day North American Motor Officers Association training conference, held in a different city each year.

Motorcycle cops are required to show great skills in handling their bikes, said Bellevue police detective Michael Chiu, a spokesman for the conference. Navigating tight spaces and practically defying gravity is part of the job, he said.

With rock music blasting from the speakers, riders weaved their bikes between rows of cones on the obstacle course, some leaning so close to the ground it looked like their BMWs, Harley-Davidsons and Hondas were sliding.

Dixie Sebald of Camano Island came to watch and to snap a few photos to show her husband, a retired Everett police officer. He was away on vacation. Sebald was impressed by how maneuverable the heavy bikes were in the hands of skilled riders.

One of them was officer John Downey of Milwaukie, Ore. Downey completed the course in a little more than 2 1/2 minutes. Nowhere near the day’s stars, he said. But the 58-year-old officer was satisfied with his time.

“I think I would have won in my age division,” he joked.

This was Downey’s third conference. He said he learned a lot mingling with colleagues from other departments.

Downey retired from the Oregon State Police in 2003 and went on to serve part-time in Milwaukie’s traffic unit. He mostly works on the streets and in school zones, where people appreciate his presence.

“That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Saturday’s competition marked the end of the conference; Thursday and Friday mostly were devoted to training. Several departments represented Snohomish County, including Lynnwood, Everett, Lake Stevens and Mountlake Terrace.

Camaraderie is a big part of the competition, Marysville police officer Paul McShane said.

“There are some top-notch riders here,” he said Saturday.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452,