ECSO trains officers to increase its motorcycle unit

 One of the training exercises for officers required them to circle Deputy Brian Smith, keeping their eyes on him as they did. One of the training exercises for officers required them to circle Deputy Brian Smith, keeping their eyes on him as they did.

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

The Etowah County Sheriff Office is completing two weeks of training that will get an additional pair of deputies road ready for the motorcycle unit.

Training was conducted at the old steel plant parking lot, where dozens of traffic cones were placed to create a course for the motorcycle riders to maneuver through.

Deputy Brian Smith trained through the Northwestern University/Harley Davidson motorcycle training program for law enforcement to become certified so he can instruct other deputies. He worked with Deputies Rodney Couch and Brian Boatwright in training throughout the 80-hour course.

“All the motors are police-equipped Harley Davidsons,” Smith said. “All deputies must complete the mandatory 80-hour training course to patrol on motorcycle.

“The motor unit assists with special events, escorts, parades and traffic details,” Smith, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2009, said. The training makes the motor unit an elite group of motorcycle operators. The unit is a division of the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.

Smith guided riders through a series of sharp turns between closely spaced cones, July 12, as reporters watched. In one drill, Smith stood while the two trainees rode their motorcycles around him in a tight circle. Capt. Bob Vosbury said the object was for the riders to maintain eye contact with Smith, so they would learn not to look down as they ride.

Vosbury said most of the first week of training was about “slow maneuvering.” There are four motorcycles in the unit, he said, and one training bike that is not fully equipped for duty.

Vosbury said there would be work on some higher speed drills in the second week of training.

Smith said training also included breaking from high speeds, avoiding hazards and obstacles, and overall rider awareness.

In addition to Smith and Vosbury, the motor unit includes deputies John Works and Phillip Stone. Upon successfully completing the training, Boatwright and Couch will join the unit.

In the coming weeks, Smith said, he will be training an additional pair of deputies for motor unit duties.

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