Deputy Jonathan Olivares, who has been riding a motorcycle since his teens, said he was surprised by the difficulty of the department’s training session.
“It’s a different set of skills here,” he said during Wednesday’s training session at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.
For Olivares, the training means a switch from the road patrol to fill one of two empty spots in the motorcycle division.
For his fellow students, it was an opportunity to see what a motorcycle deputy experiences daily.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree and two members of his command staff, Lts. Randy Prickett and Ramone Lamkin, took part in the three-day training.
All of them own motorcycles, but some still skimmed cones or went down as they took sharp turns, something a normal bike rider isn’t accustomed to doing.
“To me it’s easy,” said Cpl. Michael Lewis, the squad supervisor, “but to the new guys it looks like more of a challenge.”
Lewis said motorcycles are especially useful in tight squeezes.
The Masters Tournament is one example when motorcycle deputies are used for their ability to maneuver through tight spots and crowds.
In addition to maneuvering between the cones, the trainees found out what a motorcycle cop experiences in tough weather conditions with Wednesday’s morning chill and high winds.
“Their riding abilities have vastly improved,” said Sgt. Mark Chestang, who assisted in teaching during the last day of training.