Top cops test their cycle skills in D'Iberville

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Motorcycle officers from around Mississippi showed off their riding skills in D'Iberville on Thursday. They're on the coast for this week's summer conference of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Association.

A little friendly competition brought out the best in these riders.

They make it look so easy. But guiding an 800 plus pound motorcycle through a series of sharp turns takes special skills.

"It's not so much riding the cone patterns, it's knowing you're under a clock. And once the clock is ticking, you're trying to make up for that by using a little speed and that's where some of us are making some mistakes here," said Gulfport officer Damon McDaniel, who's been riding his police motorcycle since 1997.

Hattiesburg officer Derek Holmes had the added pressure of drawing number one.

"It was a little nerve wracking. I had to be the first one to go, but I got out there and did it. I think I had a pretty clean run," said the two year motorcycle officer.

"You have to practice. Training. Training is number one. That's what this whole event is about, is training. That's the number one thing. We get out there and do them and we're able to make the turns," Holmes added.

Expert balance, coordination and concentration keep the riders from "killing the cones."

Properly ridden, the police motorcycles can be smooth and powerful in the tight turns or a lot of dead weight if the rider leans a bit too much.

"As a former motor officer myself, it's a heavy bike. And you've got to make sure. There's a technique between the clutch, the gas, the brake and balancing that big motor. So, it takes a lot of finesse and a lot of skill. It's certainly not easy. They make it look easy, but this is a tough course and a tough bike to ride," said Windy Swetman, a vice president of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Association.

While riding skills and technique are vital, there's also a certain mind set required to do well on the course.

"Letting go of some of your fears. Going against the laws of gravity. Head and eyes and brakes and clutch. Go over what you think the bike is going to do. Use the brakes and clutch. And that bike will drive itself," said Michael Fleming, with the Hattiesburg Police Department.

After meeting on the coast for several years, next summer's law enforcement conference will be held in Tupelo.

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