Countywide : Motorcycle Cops Pick 'Top Gun'

After scoring a perfect 100 on four obstacle courses Wednesday, California Highway Patrol Officer Paul Medeiros for the second year in a row was named "Top Gun Rider"--the best motorcycle cop in Southern California.

"I'm proud to win it again," Medeiros said. "It was a tough competition . . . that enhances our riding ability, and I was just treating it as a training day."

Motorcycle officers representing 12 law enforcement agencies from Laguna Beach to Gardena competed in the eighth annual Orange County Traffic Officers Assn. Police Motorcycle Competition at the Beckman Instruments parking lot in Fullerton.

The event was organized by La Habra police officers, who did not compete but served as judges.

Steve Brinkerhoff, who trains motorcycle officers from throughout the state at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Training Center, said the purpose of the competition is to enhance maneuvering skills and safety techniques.

"The contest encourages these officers to practice and get a little bit better at what they do," he said. "It's promoting safety and developing skills."

Most police departments, he said, set aside one day every three months for training, because the leading cause of accidents in the past has been lack of training.

"Training used to consist of a lot of heavy rear breaking while making turns," Brinkerhoff said. "Not any more."

The training was evident as officers weaved between cones on obstacle courses.

Costa Mesa Police Officer Dave Andersen completed the S-curve course, which competitors described as the most difficult, without making a mistake. "I'm shaking," he said.

On the second time around, Andersen again made no mistakes. "I'm still shaking," he said. "It's a tough course, but it's good for training."

When his partner, Officer Angelo Morgan, duplicated Andersen's success, the two men gave each other an enthusiastic high-five.

"I practiced a lot, at least once a month for this," said Morgan, a 10-year veteran of the Costa Mesa Police Department, who also received perfect scores on the three other obstacle courses. "I figure if this is something I'm going to do for the rest of my life, I may as well practice."

Morgan, Andersen and Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Tom Winter took top honors in the best team category.

Many of the day's competitors said the event promotes camaraderie among motorcycle officers and gives them a chance to see what new equipment other departments are using.

But CHP Officer Kevin Holsome said he was competing for one reason. "The whole point is to find out who's the best--who's the Top Gun," he said.

Garden Grove Police Officer Karl Mansfield said the competition served as a confidence builder.

"The chances for a motor officer to get injured while on duty are twice as high as for other officers because people don't look out for motorcycles," he said. "So training like this is doubly important for us. It helps us on the job and keeps us safe. If you don't keep your skills up, you're going to lose them.

"A tuneup for our skills--that's exactly what this (competition) is," he said.--MIMI KO

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