SACRAMENTO(CBS13) – Law enforcement is already known as a profession dealing with danger on a daily basis, but officers patrolling on motorcycles are often the most at risk.
“There are certain risks you simply cannot avoid,” said Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGuinness. “We used to say we dress for the crash, not for the ride and hope that the crash doesn’t occur.”
McGuiness was a deputy in the motorcycle unit for more than five years.
“Making a traffic stop is among the most high-risk activities an officer will engage in,” he said in regard to both motorcycles and autos.
Nationwide statistics show 63 officers died from motorcycle-related incidents in the past 10 years compared to 364 that were killed in car crashes.
McGuinness says the motorcycle numbers are lower because there are fewer officers patrolling on two wheels.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect the risk of injury or fatalities on (a) motorcycle is greater than that of a car,” he said.
Several motorcycle officers have been killed or seriously injured in the Sacramento area.
In 2016 Michael Ericson was run over by a fleeing suspect during a traffic stop near Madison and I-80.
Just last year CHP Motor Officer Lucas Chellew was killed in South Sacramento during a pursuit
In the most recent case, CHP says Motor Officer Kirk Griess had pulled over a car and was standing on the side of the freeway when he was hit.
“I’m not sure that it would’ve made any difference what the officer’s mode transportation was,” he added.
McGuinness says motorcycle patrols can go where cars can’t making them essential to the force.
“I think it’s too valuable of a tool quite frankly, the general public is served well by law-enforcement officers being deployed on motorcycles,” he said. “I thank God that people are willing to go out there and engage in that high-risk activity to keep the streets, the neighborhood, and the community safer.”
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department says a motorcycle officer is likely one of the most mentally and physically demanding jobs in law enforcement.
They face those demands on a regular basis and many officers do not make it through the selection process and motor school.