APD motorcycle cops show their skills during competition

Cpl. Pennington, Cpl Donais and Ofc. Thomas of the Amarillo Police Department placed 1st, 7th and 3rd, respectively, in the 2014 JWA Spring Classic Police Motorcycle Skills Competition.

Three Amarillo Police Department Motorcycle Squad officers attended the 2014 JWA Spring Classic Police Motorcycle Skills Competition and brought back 1st, 3rd, and 7th place in their class.

The April 21-27 event was held in Grand Prairie, Texas.

It placed 105 police motorcyclists in competition divided by type of motorcycle and the officer's expert or novice classification. To qualify as an expert, an officer had to have three or more competitions under his belt, or to have placed in a previous competition.

The competition is a timed course made up of a series of tight turns and difficult maneuvers designed to test the officer's ability to control the motorcycle. Time penalties are added to the officer's score if their foot touches the ground, if they knock over or touch a course marker cone, drop the motorcycle, or do not follow the prescribed pattern.

All three Amarillo officers competed in the Harley Davidson/with Windshield and Fairing class. Many officers consider this the most demanding class because the fairing interferes with the officer's ability to see the course directly below the front of the motorcycle

Cpl. Wade Pennington took home the 1st place trophy in this, his first, competition. Pennington has spent nearly two years of his over 13 years with the department assigned to the Motorcycle Unit.

Ofc. Trent Thomas, also in his first competition, took home a 3rd place trophy. Thomas is an eight-year veteran of the APD, with four years on the Motorcycle Unit.

Sixteen officers competed in their class.

Cpl. Kenneth Donais, who came in 1st in the Novice class last year to earn his place in the Expert class this year, took 7th place of 37 riders in his division. Donais, a 24 year veteran, has been assigned to the Motorcycle Unit for four years.

The APD currently has thirteen officers assigned to the Motorcycle Unit including supervisor Sgt. Steve Davis. Officers applying for assignment to the motorcycle unit earn the assignment through competitive interviews and passing a difficult police motorcycle operator class. APD officers ride Harley Davidson motorcycles that have much of the equipment found in police cars, including a video camera. The motorcycles, when fully outfitted for police duty or competition, weigh about 950 pounds.