Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This badge ain't made of tin

Many moons ago while I was still pushing a patrol car, working weekend graveyard, my beat partner and I would ride our motorcycles to work. Needless to say we'd be riding just a tad over the posted speed limit as evident from the sonic booms while breaking the sound barrier. My beat partner Philosophical Al never bothered getting his M1 endorsement.

Me, I wasn't any better. I had let my M1 endorsement lapse. Our department decided to start up a motor unit. We already had a traffic car. There was going to be two full time positions and two alternate motor positions. I had just gotten into a fender bender with a patrol car and didn't hold out too much hope of being selected.

I thought my chances were so slim that I actually turned in my letter for the position on department letter head and used crayon to write it out. I used my left hand and purposely misspelled words, wrote some letters backwards and the grammar was horrendous.

During line up (briefing, roll call or what ever you want to call it) our shift Sergeant would see our motorcycles parked in the PD parking lot. She'd ask Philosophical Al if he had gotten his M1 endorsement. Of course Al would take his pen out of his uniform shirt pocket and tap his badge and say "See this. This badge ain't made of tin." We'd all get a good chuckle out of his little statement.

Much to my surprise I was selected for an alternate motor position and thus began the turn in my law enforcement career of a patrol officer prankster to a part time motor officer prankster.

The police motorcycle operations school was fun, although I did get sick and tired of orange cones. 80 hours of slow speed turns and 40 mph deceleration drills.

After graduating from motor school, I resumed my weekend graveyard shift and no I wasn't wearing the "boots" but I was wearing my MOTOR WINGS! You betcha! I had earned that darned thing I was going to wear it.

The Traffic Sergeant (who has since retired in Hawaii) allowed me to ride in the morning to conduct some traffic enforcement on the motor which I totally loved!

One night while working my shift I was contacted by my shift Sergeant. It was evaluation time.... no problem, lots of self initiated activity, loads of DUI arrests.

Enter the patrol officer into the Sergeant's office and the first words I hear her say in a surprised and shocked tone, "You don't have an M1!?" My reply, "Uh, yeah, so, aaah, this badge ain't made of tin?....." I was forbidden to do anymore enforcement on the motor until I had gotten my M1 endorsement. Of course I wholeheartedly agreed! But it sure sucked.

When the Traffic Sergeant came in, my Sergeant had told him about the lack of an M1 endorsement. Needless to say when I ended my shift and was walking toward the locker room we crossed paths.....

Traffic Sergeant: "I thought you had an M1!"
Me: "I did have one but I let it lapse."
Traffic Sergeant: "How the hell did you get through motor school without an M1?"
Me: "You don't need one. It says you only need required safety gear."
Traffic Sergeant: "Bull Shit!"
Me: "No really Sarge, just safety gear."

Well he checked the POST (Peace Officer Standardized Training) website and looked up the motor school and was shocked that an M1 wasn't a requirement.

Luckily for me the Traffic Sergeant contacted the local DMV office and verified that my graduation certificate was enough to get the required M1 endorsement. He ordered me to take one of the motors just in case they made me take a riding proficiency test.

I walk into the local DMV office and contact the clerk my Traffic Sergeant had spoken with. I showed my motor school graduation certificate, had a new picture taken and given that temporary paper driver license with my M1 endorsement.

Later that year at our annual picnic, the officers I worked with made up a huge drivers license with an M1 and presented it to me.

So far, Al is still riding without an M1 because "This badge ain't made of tin."

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