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An officer competes in course A during the Coppell's 5th annual Motorcycle Rodeo and Custom Bike Show held at Wagon Wheel Park in Coppell. Photo by Jena Seidemann.

By Jena Seidemann, BubbleLife Intern

Hosting its fifth annual motorcycle rodeo and custom bike show, the Coppell Police Department exceeded its original goal of $25,000 to donate to Metroplex Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS).

“We gave $20,000 to COPS last year, and $25,000 is our goal,” silent auction coordinator Misty Salvie said.

Organizer and Coppell Motorcycle Officer Josh Jackson announced at the end of event that the rodeo earned roughly $27,000 through generous donations. Twenty-three police departments from Texas were represented at the show.

Five years ago, fellow police officer Sgt. Eric Debus wanted to create a memorial wall for two Coppell officers who died in the line of action. From there, they began to donate to COPS, an organization that financially assists the surviving families of deceased police officers.

Volunteers came from the Citizen’s Police Academy of Coppell. They helped with the silent auction, raffle tickets, registration and other various jobs. Of the approximate 200 items donated, 110 are given to the officers at the banquet while the rest are reserved for the silent auction.

Among the raffled items was the Smith & Wesson Shield handgun, and the winner was a police officer. Although it seemed odd to raffle off a gun at an event, there were strict regulations of who could win it.

“Last year, we only raffled to police officers and firemen,” Salvie said. “This year they said it is legal to raffle if the winner can pass the Federal Firearms License test with no felonies and have a Concealed Handgun License.” 

For the rodeo contests, first, second and third place plaques were awarded based off of motorcycle type and whether the contestants were competing alone, with a partner or in a group of four. There were three motorcycle categories consisting of two different Harleys and a BMW, Kawasaki and Honda class.

Placement was judged according to time. Each participant would compete in two courses – one before and after lunch. Half of the participants would complete course A while the other completed course B. After lunch, the groups switched and the times were averaged.

Penalties, such as knocking over a cone (two seconds), putting a foot down (three seconds) and five to ten seconds for dropping a motorcycle, were added to the total average time.

In the end, the grand champion was Officer Donnie Williams from McKinney. The winners won a belt buckle and wrote their names in a jean vest that held the names of former winners. Of the five years of the competition, Williams now has his name in the jacket a total of four times because he dominated in all areas of the competition.

The competition serves several purposes: for police to have fun, attain needed credits for keeping their motorcycle permits, train for the job and remember fellow officers who laid down their lives in action.

“It teaches kids that officers are real people and can have fun,” Salvie said. “It takes away the stigma from police.”

Officers Rusty Westbrook and Brian Brown of North Richland Hills competed in memory of a fellow policeman who died in the line of action 12 years ago and for practice. Westbrook has attended the rodeo for all five years while Brown is at his third year.

“[Motorcycle skill] is what saves our lives on a daily basis,” Brown said. “It teaches to brake properly and maneuver to avoid an accident.”

Before the actual competition, competitors were able to practice and memorize the intricate courses. Both Brown and Westbrook put in roughly 16 hours in the two practice days.

Amongst the spectators and competitors were sponsor booths, bounce houses and a dunk tank. Coppell’s junior police program, Police Explorers, was present to raise money for competitions by selling hot dogs and hamburgers. In the competitions, they were given police scenarios and the team that had the best solution won.

“[The kids] represent the police chief and department,” parent advisor and retired ATF officer Mario Reyes said. “It shows what good kids are like.”

Besides raising money, the event is a showcase of another form of law enforcement from a motorcycle and unites officers with a passion of theirs. Described as a large reunion, police are able to see old friends from around the state.

“Every motorcycle cop does not want to go back to car patrolling,” Salvie said. “They would rather be patrolling on a motorcycle than a car; it is just a whole different mindset.”

According to Officer Jackson, being a motor cop is close to the old Wild West law enforcement because he upholds the law on his noble steed (or bike) with his brothers. 

“I do not feel restricted, and I have the freedom to do [my] job,” Officer Jackson said. “I love riding the bike.”

Having taken on the task of organizing the large event for the past five years, he begins planning seven to eight months in advance. After all the hard work of planning, Jackson’s reward is giving back to a national program on a community level.