Anaheim PD holds inaugural Coppers & Choppers event

By Lou Ponsi

Even experienced riders who’ve been straddling their two-wheeled machines and logging miles for decades were impressed by the level of instruction at the Anaheim Police Department’s first ever Motorheim Coppers & Choppers safety expo on Nov. 18 in the parking lot at Angel Stadium.

Orange traffic cones were configured into a layout of winding curves and sharp turns, with Anaheim PD motor officers instructing hundreds of riders on skills such as clutch control, braking, turning, and large group riding.

The drills are similar to those used to train motor officers, said Sgt. Rick Boyer of the Anaheim PD Traffic Detail, one of the event organizers.

A group of motorcycle riders who participated in Anaheim PD’s first ever Coppers & Choppers event take a selfie. The event featured riding instruction and drills, and vendors offering helmets and other safety equipment.
Photo by Lou Ponsi/Behind the Badge OC

Riders also learned the proper method of lifting a 500-pound motorcycle after its been laid on its side and even got to test their riding skill against those of experienced Anaheim PD motor officers.

“We came out for the event and to support our officers and, of course, to get in on some really good training opportunities,” said Trish Carlson, 45, a member of the Anaheim-based Lifestyle Cycles Riding Group and a motorcyclist since age 5. “Amazing instruction. Every bike is different, so to know your bike, learn and to practice it, makes you a better and safer rider.”

Anaheim PD Sgt. Jonathan Bailey, left, instructs a rider performing a drill during the Coppers & Choppers event held Saturday, Nov. 18, in the parking lot at Angel Stadium. The APD Traffic Unit organized the event to improve rider safety.
Photo by Lou Ponsi/Behind the Badge OC

The Anaheim PD Traffic Detail collaborated with Lifestyle Cycles Riding Group for the free all-day event, which was organized with one major goal in mind:

“We’re going to try to make a conscious effort to cut down on major injury and fatality traffic collisions, Boyer said.

As of October, six motorcycle fatalities have occurred in Anaheim, almost half of the total number of traffic fatalities in the city, Boyer said. In five of the six motorcycle fatalities, the riders didn’t have their M1 endorsement, which is essentially a motorcycle license.

Anaheim PD Sgt. Jonathan Bailey shares a light moment with a rider who just performed a safety drill during Coppers & Choppers. APD officers provided riding instruction during the event.
Photo by Lou Ponsi/Behind the Badge OC

From 2014 to 2015, motorcycle fatalities in California increased 12 percent, from 463 to 519 Nearly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed nationwide in 2015.

“A lot of people get into bad habits,” said Sgt. Johnathan Bailey, who served as an instructor. “We’re just trying to break those habits. Even if it saves one person from going down, then this event has been a success.”

Lifestyle Cycles Riding Group member Gary Ringer, 42, said the event made him a better rider.

“I’m on a bigger bike than I normally ride and controlling the throttle and the clutch in that (clutch control instruction) was probably the most challenging thing I’ve done on a motorcycle,” Ringer said. “I was making a 6-foot radius turn before and I couldn’t do that on this bike.”

Anaheim PD Officer Mike Padilla provides instruction to riders performing a drill during Anaheim PD’s Coppers & Choppers event.
Photo by Lou Ponsi/Behind the Badge OC

Jennifer Gall of Corona, also a member of the riding group, said when it comes to motorcycles, there is always something new to learn.

“You never know everything about your bike and about riding,” Gall said. “It’s about going fast, going slow, and learning how to turn and maneuver your bike in a small compact area. I’ve learned a lot.”

Motorheim Coppers & Choppers was open to the community and to riders of all motorcycle styles and skill levels.

The event also featured live music, food, and industry vendors offering helmets and other safety gear.

“I’m so glad to see them (Anaheim PD) out here doing it,” Carlson said. “It helps our community.”

Jesus Chavira of Bell, left, and Anaheim PD Officer Ken Newman participate in a friendly competition riding through the cones.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Anaheim PD Sgt. Rick Boyer talks to the motorcycle riders at the Coppers & Choppers event hosted by the Anaheim Police Department.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Civilian riders and Anaheim PD motor officers gather in front of Angel Stadium at the conclusion of the Motorheim Coppers & Choppers event.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC