Nearly 100 police officers from across the Pacific Northwest and as far away as Texas rumble into Western Speedway next week for the North American Motor Officers Association’s annual conference.
The Victoria Police Department is hosting the Langford event, which will see officers participate in riding proficiency clinics, use-of-force and firearms seminars, then wind up the four-day conference May 18 with a ride through West Shore communities.
“This is the first time the conference has ever been on the Island,” said VicPD Const. Steve Twardy, organizing committee member. “We have about 400 members in total, but that varies depending on funding each year from departments.”
VicPD boasts a 10-member motorbike unit, while the Saanich department has eight members assigned to bike duty. But some U.S. police departments have scaled back similar units, Twardy said, and the prohibitive cost of travelling to the Island has limited this year’s participation.
Still, dozens of visiting officers are expected to arrive with their bikes and bring an economic boost to the West Shore.
“We’re going to occupy the entire speedway and surrounding parking lots,” Twardy said.
The event is open for public viewing from the Speedway bleachers during many of the events, he added.
Units outfitted with Harley Davidson, Victory and BMW motorcycles will compete in separate categories from each other in proficiency events.
“We do tears, where two guys on Harleys have a string between them and they have to do the entire course without breaking the string,” Twardy said. “It’s pretty amazing to watch the skill of some of these guys … but I’m sure there will probably be a few crashes.”
On the Saturday afternoon, officers will partake in a memorial ride honouring fallen officers through Langford, the Esquimalt Lagoon, Colwood and Metchosin.