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Countywide : Officers Square Off in a Battle of Skills

October 13, 1994|LYNN FRANEY

Motorcycle police officers make riding look easy, deftly guiding 700-pound machines between cars and then zooming off toward an accident or crime scene.

But, as was evident Wednesday at an Orange County Traffic Officers Assn. skills competition in Santa Ana, agility and command on a police motorcycle come from hours of practice at precision maneuvers.

"Someone who doesn't know what they're doing is a liability out there," said California Highway Patrol Officer Jeff Giovinetti, 38, as he awaited his turn to tackle the hairpin curves, figure eights and slalom patterns of the proficiency course on his Kawasaki Police 1000.

Giovinetti, of Huntington Beach, scored a perfect 110 points and placed second overall in the 45-officer competition, to the delight of his wife, Maria, who has watched him compete five years in a row, and his 2-year-old son, Tony, who ran a tiny toy motorcycle along the seat of dad's motorcycle.

The skills competition, which pitted officers from nine local police agencies against each other, was intended to help the officers sharpen their concentration for riding smoothly in pinched spaces and amid road debris and other cars.

"You have to ride defensively because people just don't see motorcycles," Santa Ana Police Sgt. Raul Luna said. "This gets the guys motivated to do a little more serious training and the end result is more proficient riders on the street."

In the past 10 years, participating departments have taken turns holding the competition. This year's event was put on by the Santa Ana Police Department in the newly paved McDonnell Douglas parking lot.

Although an ambulance was on scene in case of an accident, only two officers "dumped" their bikes on the ground when they braked too suddenly entering a tight turn or failed to negotiate a curve.

They were not hurt, Luna said, "except for their egos."

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