head: Biker with a badge
SUMMIT COUNTY – The first test for state patrol troopers who want to serve the public from the saddle of a motorcycle isn’t as simple as it sounds: They must prove they can right the bike when it’s laid down.
“It weighs about 950 pounds,” said Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Brett Williams. “They figure, if you can’t pick it up, there’s no need to go on with the rest of the training.”
Williams got past that test and the rest of them and, with his transfer to Troop 6B, became Summit County’s first-ever motorcycle trooper. He is one of 20 Colorado State Patrol (CSP) motorcycle officers around the state. In addition to typical trooper duties of enforcing traffic laws and investigating accidents, the motorcycle division is assigned to special events, such as bicycle races or biker rallies, civic functions and as VIP escorts. Since joining the motorcycle division last year, Williams has escorted Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Democractic presidential candidate Al Gore.
Getting to the point of serving in such an honorable role was no Sunday drive, though. Williams said his first winter in Colorado nearly killed him. A native of Hawaii, where he first learned to ride motorcycles and became interested in law enforcement, he had never before seen his breath. And now he realizes the 60-degree temperatures in Silt and Glenwood Springs were mild compared to Summit County.
Then there was the motorcycle training. The state patrol interviews candidates interested in the division. Those who pass the interview stage must make it through three weeks of what Williams described as the hardest training he’s ever been through: slow-speed maneuvering and control skills for things “you never knew a bike could do – you look at the course and think, “a 10-speed bike couldn’t do that.'” Each year, motorcycle officers must re-test, an ordeal Williams said he’s already dreading.
Now that he’s on-duty on his Harley Davidson FLH, he is the envy of motorcycle enthusiasts. In addition to having police tools such as radar guns, radios, lights and sirens, the bikes are modified to reach higher speeds. Each night, he spends 45 minutes polishing the leather and detailing the chrome. Williams said the patrol also is trying to figure out how to mount computers on the cycles, as they are in patrol cars. Despite the glamour of reflective shades and high-top patent leather boots, however, the job can be dangerous.
“My mom’s not real happy about that part,” Williams said. “I’ve been run off the road a couple of times. People follow you too close. Honestly, you have to ride pretending you’re invisible, because most people just don’t see you.”
Williams said he plans on making himself more visible in Summit County. Although CSP troopers are responsible for patrolling Clear Creek and Park counties as well, Williams said he hopes to become involved with Summit’s biking and cycling communities. He’s contacted local police departments about participating in their bike rodeos for children, and he’ll also serve as part of a motorcade for bicycle races such as the Courage and Saturn classics.
“To me, this is the part of patrol I’m most proud of,” Williams said. “And I look forward to sharing it. Anybody that wants a patrol motorcycle at a parade or event, they just have to call.”
CSP Cpl. Brett Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3133.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or email@example.com.
CSP and Motorcycles: a Brief History:
1935 – The Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol is founded.; 17 officers are issued Indian Police Special motorcycles.
1941 – Deputy Supervisor Arnold Gulzow is the first CSP motorcycle officer to die from injuries suffered in the line of duty.
1945 – After World War II, the patrol switches to Harley Davidson motorcycles.
1973 – The patrol switches motorcycles again, opting for Kawasakis and their better protection from wind and weather.
1985 – The motorcycle division of the CSP is disbanded.
1988 – The division returns with Harley Davidson FRP models and a new, rigorous training program.
1992 – CSP riders are issued Harley Davidson FLH models.
1995 – The division’s bikes are re-painted in black and silver, the original colors of the original Highway Courtesy Patrol.
2002 – Summit County is assigned its first CSP motorcycle officer.
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