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Manteca challenge for motorcycle officers
Manteca is hosting a police motorcycle competition at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. - photo by GLENN KAHL
The Manteca Police Department “Motor Skills Challenge” believed to be the first of its kind in San Joaquin County in recent history is set to start Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley lifestyle center at Union Road and the Highway 120 Bypass.

More than 40 officers are expected to compete in the two-day event set for next Friday and Saturday – Friday being a training day and Saturday the strict competition.  The public is invited both days.

Prior to the cuts in the Manteca department there were five motorcycle officers on the street.  That number has been cut to only two, however the five continue to train together to sustain their skills to support being called out for special assignments.

Those five officers, under the direction of Lt. Nick Obligacion, have competed in numerous police motorcycle challenge events.  They have brought home first place trophies from most of their competitions – having made a name for themselves among other departments.

MPD event coordinator and motorcycle officer Patrick Danipour said that motor officers have registered from as far away as Fresno, Santa Clara and Oakland police departments.  Competitors are also coming from Modesto, Visalia, Lodi Tracy and Ripon.  The Carson City Department is unable to attend, however it is sharing its event equipment with Manteca.

While competing in the competition, Manteca’s five officers have agreed to step back in the judging in their host position – not accepting any first, second or third place finishes.  The Manteca officers have also decided not to charge other departments an entry fee making it possible for more to attend in the down economy.  They explained that the participation of sponsors for the event made that a real possibility.

Danipour said there will be two categories for Harley Davidson motorcycle riders – Road King and Electro Glides with separate competitions.

The BMW and Honda riders are going to be in a category all by themselves and their competition will also be separate.

The cone patterns for the competition are slated to be laid out on the corner of Atherton and Union roads in an empty J.C. Penny parking lot.  

The Fresno division of the CHP is sending 14 motors for the training day and two for competition on Saturday.  Total registrations account for a total of 60 officers on the Friday training day and 45 for the main events.

Danipour said the event is mainly organized for the benefit of officers to ensure they get additional training from competing with their peers in other departments.

“Training is on-going, you are never finished,” the Manteca motorcycle officer said.  

It is good for the public to witness how officers push their limits with the 900-pound motorcycles running the patterns and making quick turns without dropping their bikes.

The competitions put officers through challenges that simulate the real thing on the street demonstrating how to avoid collisions and learning how to get out of the way of vehicles that could take a rider out on the road.

“By adding a time limit factor, we add stress making the challenge more like it is on the street,” he added.

Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker is paying for a chief’s perpetual trophy that bears the overall winner’s name for this year and for consecutive years.
One of the most interesting events is a follow-the-leader “last man standing” competition where two riders enter the track.  The second officer must follow the exact trail of the first.  The goal of the first rider is to throw his shadowing rider off track – getting far enough ahead of him that he loses focus.

The main event pits individual officers against the clock expected to ride through the entire pattern without hitting any of the cones.  The “slow ride” challenges a rider to stay upright and take the slowest and longest ride through the small measured course.    

Sponsors who are making the first event possible include Los Amigos Tires, Togo’s, Sunrise Kiwanis, California Casualty Insurance, Manteca Noon Kiwanis, Don’s Mobile Glass, The Manteca Bulletin, Mitchell’s Modesto Harley Davidson, 5.11 Tactical, Coca Cola, Doctors Hospital of Manteca, Starbucks at Union and Yosemite, Manteca Police (non-sworn) Employees Association, Manteca Police Officers Association, Honda of Modesto, Manteca Optometry and A&A Portables.  The Hampton Inn has set aside a block of rooms for out-of-town competitors.

Many of the vendors are expected to have booths set up for the public benefit around the edge of the competition’s courses.  Among them will be the Manteca Police Explorers with their food and drink concession.