Published Sept. 9, 2013, 7:16 p.m., updated 10:45 p.m.
The shouts and squeals of children at play on the Thousand Oaks Elementary School playground in Berkeley were replaced Sunday by the roar and rumble of police motorcycles as officers competed for top speed around a twisting obstacle course.
Only an occasional orange cone was tipped over as police from 11 law enforcement agencies deftly maneuvered their hefty bikes around tight turns in the third annual Police Motorcycle Competition organized by the UC Berkeley Police Department.
Seventeen officers competed at this year's event, which was held in conjunction with the Solano Avenue Stroll for the first time this year. (Last year's competition was on Regatta Boulevard in Richmond, and two years ago, it was at a UC Berkeley parking garage on Hearst Avenue.)
Though the winners are the ones with the fastest course times, it wasn't exactly a high-speed contest. The tight twists and turns put more of a premium on timing, balance and precise control.
Contestants vied in two divisions: Harley and Metric (non-Harley). The Harley winner was Jerry Shaman of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department, and the Metric winner, for the third year in a row, was Quinn Redeker of the Ventura Police Department. The full list of winners below first place can be found on the competition's website.
The modest number of spectators included chef Tony Poon, who came from his home in Orinda to see the event. "I love motorcycles," he said. "I ride."
Asked his impression of what he saw at the competition, he said, "Amazing."
Eighteen officers had been registered this year, but one of the UC Berkeley officers had to drop out because of a bike breakdown, said UC Berkeley Police Detective Quincy Ruffin, the event's chief organizer.
The event is organized as both a competition and a training exercise.
The agencies that competed this year were:
- Alameda Police Department (1 officer)
- Berkeley Police Department (1 officer)
- California Highway Patrol (1 officer)
- Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department (1 officer)
- El Cerrito Police Department (1 officer)
- San Francisco Police Department (1 officer)
- San Jose Police Department (2 officer)
- UC Berkeley Police Department (2 officers)
- UC Davis Police Department (3 officers)
- Ventura Police Department (1 officer)
- West Sacramento Police Department (3 officers)
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