Take a second to wrap your head around that headline. What it means is that a motor cop crashed and broke his wrist while working traffic at the funeral that was held for the motor cop that was killed when he collided head on, at high speed on a public road with another motor cop less than two weeks ago.
At the end of that story, I made a quip about motor cops wearing little-to-no safety gear and riding as though they’re above the laws they enforce. Many readers thought that it was insensitive and inappropriate to make a joke out of someone dying. Well, it wasn’t a joke. As evidenced by this third injury, this is obviously a very serious issue. Police officers, who’s salary, health insurance and workers comp are paid for by tax payers are injuring and killing themselves due to negligence. Yes, it’s a sad a terrible tragedy, especially for their friends and families.
When I take a step back and think about it for a minute though, I can’t help but wonder how these officers would have fared if they’d been wearing even my most casual set of gear.
Most motor cops in Southern California can be seen wearing short sleeves, tight pants that lack any sort of protection, knee-high patent leather boots that go well with horses, an open face helmet and either elk skin ropers or no gloves at all. The bullet proof vests may very well make decent chest and back protectors, but you never look at a guy wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a vest over it and remark on how well protected he is.
This time around, the Cypress officer broke both his wrists when a truck turned in front of him. That’s the kind of average, everyday accident we all get in and all prepare for. How would he have fared if he’d been wearing racing gloves? Or if he didn’t have to frantically get his hands out in front of him to protect his exposed face from the ground?
I’m familiar with the argument that a fully geared-up cop appears more intimidating than one who’s face and arms are exposed, but lets be honest here, the intimidating thing about a police officer is the loaded semi-automatic hand-gun, taser, billy club, hand-cuffs and the knowledge that they can (and are perfectly willing to) use all of those things on people they interact with. I also know that I’d be much less intimidated by someone I perceived to be a sane person. Anyone willing to ride at 100 percent on the street, in traffic, with no protective gear other than an open face helmet and a bullet proof vest is not a sane person. Give that guy a loaded gun and a license to kill and what you end up with is a fool-proof recipe for intimidation. While Sally Soccer mom might not understand this in the same way I do, that doesn’t make it any less true.
Over the past year or so, I have been seeing officers, especially the CHP, wearing better riding gear. Convertible helmets, real gloves and armored clothing make for a motor cop that is less intimidating and much easier for me to respect than the CHiPs look of the past. Consider this an open challenge to motor officers and departments to change their out-dated and dangerous riding gear policies.